Apex man accused of killing wife also faces domestic violence charges in Louisiana
Posted December 6, 2017 4:50 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 1:40 p.m. EDT
Apex, N.C. — An Apex man accused of killing his wife last month also faces domestic violence charges in Louisiana, where they used to live.
Court documents obtained by WRAL News show that Michael Anthony Maher was indicted two years ago on on charges that he choked his wife, Nadia Maher, in front of three of their children at their home in Broussard, La. He was supposed to appear in court on those charges Dec. 21.
Nadia Maher, 38, was shot and killed on Nov. 24 at a home on Walden Glade Run in Apex that the couple and their four children have been renting since August.
Police initially ruled the shooting accidental because Michael Maher told investigators that a shotgun went off when he was moving it. But they charged the 44-year-old with murder last Friday, and he remains in the Wake County jail without bond.
Advocates for domestic violence victims say prosecutors always look for patterns of domestic violence prior to a homicide, and they said Wednesday that the Louisiana charges raise red flags in the Maher case.
"Under Louisiana law, he shouldn't have left the state unless he had written permission from a judge," said Amily McCool, legal and policy director for the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "It's possible a judge gave him written permission, but probably pretty unlikely. So, he's probably under some violation of those terms in Louisiana law. It also jumps out at me that he was likely under a no-contact order."
The group was instrumental in writing Britny's Law, which went into effect in North Carolina last week. The law, named for a Fuquay-Varina woman killed by her boyfriend after a four-year abusive relationship, makes it easier for prosecutors to pursue first-degree murder charges in domestic violence homicides.
As originally drafted, prosecutors could use previous domestic violence charges as evidence of premeditation in such cases, but the final version of the legislation said only convictions could be considered. Since Michael Maher's charge was still pending in Louisiana, McCool said, Britny's Law cannot be applied in the case.
"Under the prior version of Britny’s Law, that charge could have absolutely been used to heighten this availability of first-degree murder, looking at prior acts of domestic violence," she said.
Michael Maher also faces charges of insurance fraud and theft in Louisiana in separate cases.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said her staff will look at those past charges, but she doesn't know at this point how they might impact the murder case.