An aspiring pastor who claimed to have accidentally killed his wife in his sleep after taking too much cough medicine appeared in court on Tuesday.
Matthew Phelps, 28, was told by a judge that he could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering his wife Lauren, 29, who was found dead at the couple’s home in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Friday after he called 911.
Dressed in an orange and white striped jumpsuit, Phelps kept his head down throughout the hearing on Tuesday.
He did not enter a plea and was held without bond until his next court date on September 25.
Matthew Phelps kept his head down as he appeared in court in North Carolina on Tuesday to face murder charges for killing his wife Lauren
Afterwards, his attorney told local media that he was ‘traumatized’ by his wife’s death.
‘I know this is difficult for people to understand but he is going through a terrible trauma.
Lauren Hugelmaier, 29, was found dead at the couple’s home
‘And you know there are all kinds of stages to these things and he’s at the beginning of those stages. So there’s a lot of trauma to go around in all of this in all of these cases always,’ Joseph Cheshire told ABC in North Carolina.
He told DailyMail.com later that his client was emotional and traumatized.
Phelps called 911 in the early hours of Friday morning claiming to have just woken up to find his wife dead, himself covered in blood and a bloody knife on their bed.
He said he had been having a dream and woke up with the lights on to find her already dead.
‘I think I killed my…’ he told the 911 operator before tailing off.
As he went on, he said that he had taken ‘too much’ Coricidin Cough and Cold medicine before he went to bed.
‘She didn’t deserve this,’ he wept as he waited for emergency responders to arrive at their home.
Phelps did not enter a plea on Tuesday. He was told by a judge to expect the death penalty or life without parole if he is convicted of his wife’s murder
The couple’s home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where Lauren was found dead in the early hours of Friday morning
On Tuesday, a judge told him to expect the death penalty or life without parole if he is convicted.
Lauren, who sold candles, was laid to rest at a funeral in their hometown of Raleigh on Monday.
Her obituary made no mention of her grisly death of her marriage to Phelps.
The pair tied the knot less than a year ago in the same church where her funeral was held on Monday.
Lauren and Matthew had been married for less than a year before her death on Friday morning
Coricidin is a powerful cough and cold medicine which can cause drowsiness.
The man said he had taken ‘too much’ Coricidin HBPO Cough and Cold medicine before he went to bed
It has been used by teenagers who want to get high but is not commonly linked to hallucinations.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for Bayer, the pharmaceuticals company which manufactures it, told DailyMail.com it was aware of the woman’s death but said the drug was not known to cause violence.
‘Bayer extends our deepest sympathies to this family. Patient safety is our top priority, and we continually monitor adverse events regarding all of our products.
‘There is no evidence to suggest that Coricidin is associated with violent behavior,’ the spokesman said.