30 years for woman in boyfriend's fatal stabbing

Paige Pfefferle, with her attorney, Jamie Kaigh, breaks down in tears as she is sentenced for the 2010 murder of her boyfriend, Matthew Hus. His mother spoke at the hearing.
Paige Pfefferle, with her attorney, Jamie Kaigh, breaks down in tears as she is sentenced for the 2010 murder of her boyfriend, Matthew Hus. His mother spoke at the hearing. (RON TARVER / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 17, 2013

CAMDEN An Audubon Park woman was sentenced Friday to 30 years in prison without parole for stabbing her boyfriend to death during an argument in 2010.

Paige Pfefferle, then 19, and Matthew Hus, 21, of Audubon, had argued Sept. 4, 2010, over whether she should live on campus at La Salle University, where she was studying criminal justice and psychology, or at home. She stabbed Hus in the chest in her parents' kitchen with an 81/2-inch knife.

She put the bloody knife back into the butcher block, and crime photos showed that the scene and Hus' chest had been mostly cleaned up, Superior Court Judge Samuel D. Natal said in recounting the facts of the case.

In September, a jury, after deliberating for three hours, convicted her of murder and weapons and hindering charges.

On Friday, Natal rejected a motion from Pfefferle's attorney, Jamie Kaigh of Westmont, who argued that the evidence did not support the murder charge.

Testimony painted Pfefferle as an abusive girlfriend who would push, slap, and berate the 6-foot-2 former Audubon High School football player. She admitted lying to authorities in interviews about Hus' knife wound and on the stand.

She claimed - using a battered-woman-syndrome defense - that Hus physically abused her, including that he had hit her with a tire iron and the claw end of a hammer. But friends said that she was the aggressor and that Hus did not strike her. Further, there were no medical or police reports to support her claim.

During cross-examination, an expert hired by the defense acknowledged that it was uncommon for a battered woman to be the aggressor in public or in private.

"The lies were horrendous in this case," Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Testa said.

At the crime scene, Testa said, Pfefferle told authorities that Hus was addicted to pills, but toxicology tests showed otherwise.

"She started out . . . the character assassination right on the crime scene," Testa said.

Kaigh asked Natal to consider that Pfefferle, now 22, committed the crime at 19 and had never been in trouble with the law.

Natal said Pfefferle "acted very much on impulse. . . . She took the knife out to scare him, and then used it in striking him."

He added: "She did not contemplate the extent of the harm that she would be causing, but she clearly knew what she was doing."

Pfefferle will be given credit for 54 days served in jail. She remains in custody.

In the courtroom, Pfefferle was dressed in a red jumpsuit and hung her head through much of the proceedings, shaking in her chair.

She spoke softy when addressing Natal, sobbed loudly at points, and declined to address the court.

In front of her was a collage of pictures chronicling Hus' life - one of him smiling during his elementary-school years, another as a baby.

Hus, a 2008 Audubon graduate, and Pfefferle, who graduated in 2009, had been dating for four years. The couple met at her Sweet 16 party.

"I love being in love," she once wrote on a social-media page. And Hus "truly did love Paige," his mother, Emilie, told the court, reading from a four-page handwritten speech.

Pfefferle's parents, who sat three rows behind her, loved him, too, Emilie Hus said, noting that Kimberly Pfefferle, on her 911 call, referred to Hus as "her son-in-law."

Hus' father, Marek, and 87-year-old grandmother sat in a front row.

"I miss Matthew daily," his mother said, "and I expect I will carry this sorrow all of my life."

Her son was delivered by an emergency c-section, she said, and was on a heart monitor for nine months.

"Death wasn't even on his mind" the day he died, she said.

He rode Big Wheels as a child. He liked "spooky" movies, like the Friday the 13th series. He worked his way up at a Cherry Hill ShopRite from shopping-cart wrangler to cashier. At the time of his death, he was working as a carpenter.

"Matt was as familiar to me as my own skin," Emilie Hus said.

The young couple's relationship, according to testimony, was filled with turmoil that played out in punches, slaps, and verbal abuse from Pfefferle. On the night of their argument, Natal said, she sent a text to him: "Pick me up, b-."

That night, she told emergency responders trying to save Hus' life that she did not know how he injured himself. She claimed he walked into the kitchen and collapsed.

Later in an interview with investigators, she admitted stabbing him with the knife from the butcher block in her parents' kitchen.

But she said Hus had walked into the knife, which she had been holding at her hip.

An autopsy showed Hus was killed by a downward thrust of a sharp object into his chest that punctured his aorta.


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