BY JULIE MANGANIS STAFF WRITER
The Salem News
---- — SALEM — Jurors spent about seven hours yesterday deciding whether Peter Ronchi is guilty of murder or manslaughter in the 2009 stabbing death of his pregnant girlfriend, before leaving for the day without reaching a verdict.
Ronchi, 48, of Marblehead, is charged in the deaths of Yulyia Galperina, 42, of Salem and the nearly full-term baby she was due to deliver in May 2009.
Prosecutors say it’s a case of pre-meditated first-degree murder with extreme atrocity or cruelty. Ronchi’s defense team called an expert witness who testified that Ronchi’s mental health issues and what he says Galperina told him right before the killing, that the child was not his, caused him to “snap.” They’re hoping for a manslaughter verdict.
The 12 deliberating jurors, eight women and four men, formally began their deliberations yesterday morning, after hearing closing arguments and instructions Tuesday afternoon. They’ll return to the jury room this morning.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Ronchi would face life in prison without parole. A second-degree murder conviction would give him a chance of parole in 15 years.
Manslaughter carries up to a 20-year prison term for each count.