|| ST. THOMAS, V.I. – A man who is being held on suspicion of killing his wife almost two years ago has confessed to the crime.
John James Natta, 57, of Estate Mandahl has pleaded guilty to the Jan. 23, 2015, murder of his wife, 54-year-old Merle Natta.
Natta faced one count each of first-degree murder, using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a first-degree murder, second-degree murder, using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a second-degree murder, first-degree assault (domestic violence), using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a first degree assault, third-degree assault, using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a third-degree assault,
and first-degree arson in connection with the incident.
Accepting the terms of a closed plea agreement proffered by Attorney General Claude Earl Walker, Natta appeared in court on Thursday for a change-of-plea hearing and stood before V.I. Superior Court Judge Kathleen Mackay to formally admit to the crime. Natta entered a guilty plea to second-degree murder and the remaining counts against him were dismissed. The plea offer also recommended that Natta be sentenced to a prison term of 17 1/2 years.
Mackay accepted the guilty plea and has set Jan. 27, 2016, as the date for Natta’s sentencing as she awaits a pre-sentence report.
Natta was arrested on Feb. 4, 2015, at Schneider Hospital where he was taken following his wife’s killing. He had ingested some sort of poison and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, according to police reports. He has been in custody since his arrest.
According to the affidavit of Det. Mark Thomas, police responded to a call of a house fire at the home of John and Merle Natta. When they got to the scene, police discovered Merle Natta’s body on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood. Police reports state that she had suffered multiple stab wounds to the face and head.
Natta remains jailed pending his sentencing.