Local News

Former Wake teacher on trial in husband's stabbing death

Posted September 14, 2015 6:12 a.m. EDT
Updated September 14, 2015 5:52 p.m. EDT

— Jury selection began Monday in the first-degree murder trial of a former Wake County school teacher accused of killing her husband.

Joanna Roberta Madonna, 48, has admitted to killing Jose Manuel Perez, 64, but claims it was in self-defense, telling investigators Perez was abusive and had a problem with drugs and alcohol.

A passerby found Perez's body in a ditch near Falls Lake in June 2013. An autopsy showed Perez died of multiple stab wounds to his head, neck, chest and back.

As investigators searched the couple's home on the day after Perez was found, one of Madonna's daughters told deputies that the couple had been fighting. Another daughter told deputies the couple left their home on Schoolhouse Street together and that Madonna returned alone, hot and sweaty and with a knife wound on her arm.

Investigators later learned Madonna found emails between her husband and a woman in Florida and suspected him of an affair, prompting fights between the couple.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman is one of two attorneys prosecuting the case. It will be her first prosecution since taking office in January and her first criminal prosecution in more than 10 years.

The trial is expected to run into next week.