MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – A Horton man pleaded guilty Wednesday to shooting and killing his wife at their home in 2010.
Sherwin James Wigley, 60, was charged with the June 29, 2010 murder of Lori Wigley, 46, but entered a guilty plea to the lesser included crime of intentional manslaughter.
“We’re very pleased and feel like it was a reasonable outcome,” Marshall County Chief Assistant District Attorney Everett Johnson said after Wigley entered his guilty plea.
“Of course, we’re most pleased for the victim’s family to have this part of the case behind them. We’ve still got sentencing to go, but this is a load off their shoulders,” Johnson said.
Judge Tim Jolley read Wigley the terms of manslaughter, which is to “cause the death of another person under circumstances that would constitute murder…except, that he causes the death due to a sudden heat of passion caused by provocation recognized by law, and before a reasonable time for the passion to cool and for reason to reassert itself.”
Johnson said prosecutors are still unsure of why the defendant shot his wife, but said the facts are very clear that Sherwin was responsible for Lori Wigley’s death.
Judge Jolley asked Wigley several questions to ensure he was mentally competent to enter the guilty plea, including what the jobs of judge and attorney are, where Wigley was born and attended high school, and the name of the current United States president.
The judge said he was satisfied with Wigley’s answers and that he appeared competent.
“We think certainly by the proceedings in court today and the statements and things that Mr. Wigley said we feel like it showed he is competent at this time,” Johnson said.
“Judge Jolley went through that very carefully with him, and that certainly is indicative of the fact that he is competent at this time.”
Wigley was supposed to go before a judge April 5 for a competency hearing to determine if the trial could proceed, where physicians were expected to testify about his mental state.
Trial was set to begin April 15, but the competency hearing was canceled April 4.
Sheriff’s investigators said Sherwin Wigley shot himself after shooting his wife, and he spent three weeks in Huntsville Hospital receiving treatment for his injuries.
“This is about as unfortunate a situation as I’ve seen in a while,” Johnson said.
“Having shot himself, survived, I would consider him fortunate.”
Defense attorney Michael Mastin asked Judge Jolley for 90 days to get ready for a sentencing hearing, so that he can prepare some medical testimony.
Judge Jolley set the sentencing hearing for Monday, July 1. Prosecutors said they will ask for the maximum punishment of 20 years in prison.