A New Jersey man accused of killing his wife, dumping her body in their backyard swimming pool and then driving to a local restaurant to get takeout in an attempt to cover up the killing has reportedly accepted a plea deal calling for a 15-year prison term.
Norman Long, 53, pleaded guilty earlier this month to an amended charge of aggravated manslaughter, according to a copy of the plea agreement, NJ.com reported. Gloucester County prosecutors are recommending a 15-year term when he is sentenced May 3.
Long, originally charged with murder, is to be required to serve 85 percent of that sentence before being eligible for parole, and charges of evidence-tampering and obstruction are to be dismissed, NJ.com reported.
Prosecutors, who declined to discuss the plea agreement Friday, said Long told first responders in June 2017 that 47-year-old Michelle Long drowned in the pool at their Woolwich Township home, but an autopsy found that the cause of death was blunt force trauma.
Officials alleged that Long killed his wife of 15 years and then drove to Applebee's to pick up takeout for two in an effort to create an alibi. Officers said there was evidence that Long tried to clean up the crime scene, with paper towels containing the victim's blood found in the kitchen trash can.
Authorities have said they believe Michelle Long was planning to leave her husband. Her last online search revealed she was looking at homes, they said. A small dog was also found dead at the bottom of the pool, though how it got there hasn't been disclosed.
Defense attorney David Bahuriak Jr. said his client has accepted responsibility and regrets his actions. He called it "the result of a sudden provocation, intoxication and a number of mental health issues all converging in a perfect storm."
"He wishes he could take it back," Bahuriak said Friday. "The best that he can do is accept responsibility and ask for forgiveness."