- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

NEWPORT, N.H. (AP) - Kelly Robarge texted a friend that she had just filed for divorce from her husband of 21 years. As she pulled into her driveway, she added: “He’s here.”

Then, she vanished.

That was on the morning of June 27, 2013.

Her husband, James Robarge of Saxtons River, Vermont, was eventually charged with first- and second-degree murder in connection with her death. Jury selection wrapped up Tuesday in Sullivan County Court in New Hampshire.

The night Kelly Robarge disappeared, James Robarge was picked up by police on a road about two miles from where his 42-year-old wife’s body would ultimately be found. He had blood on his shorts and the car he said had broken down had a bloodstained trunk.

Kelly Robarge’s decomposing and animal-ravaged body was found nine days later in a remote area of Unity, about 10 miles from her home. The body was in such bad shape that a medical examiner couldn’t say exactly how she died, calling it only “homicidal violence.”

“It’s a grisly scene. It really is quite disturbing,” public defender Alex Parsons said as he asked a prospective juror Tuesday whether he could closely study the images.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell focused on the one thing investigators don’t know for sure: how Kelly Robarge was killed. She declined to comment on the trial, which is expected to last five weeks.

Jurors will visit Kelly Robarge’s home Wednesday and testimony will begin Thursday.

Public defender Caroline Smith said James Robarge maintains his innocence.

“He’s looking forward to trial so he can have his day in court,” she said.

At trial, jurors will hear friends testify that Kelly Robarge told them her husband had threatened to put her through a wood chipper if she left him. They also will testify about comments she made in the days before she disappeared that his abuse and mood swings were escalating.

Superior Court Judge Brian Tucker ruled last week that the jury can see text messages and pictures of wounds on James Robarge’s body - including a large scratch through a tattoo that reads “Love Dies Slowly.”

Sgt. John Sonia, a state police detective, testified in January 2014 that 45-year-old James Robarge texted one of the couple’s two adult children, Sierra, on June 27 to ask if she knew where her mother was. He also asked when Sierra would be home. He told her that he had found his 18-month-old grandson alone in the house.

Sonia said he believes Kelly Robarge’s body was in the trunk of James Robarge’s car when their daughter arrived about an hour later to the house she shared with her mother.

Robarge has pleaded not guilty. He has been held without bond since his arrest the week Kelly Robarge’s body was found.

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