Tonawanda News

January 10, 2014

Marchant manslaughter trial opens

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — LOCKPORT — The trial of a North Tonawanda woman who admitted killing her boyfriend with a kitchen knife last year kicked into high gear on Thursday, as first responders testified about 911 calls placed and the early moments of their arrival at an Oliver Street apartment. 

Jennifer R. Marchant, 24, is facing first- and second-degree manslaughter charges for the death of Ralph D. Stone, her boyfriend, who died Feb. 6 on the kitchen floor of a second-story apartment at 580 Oliver St., after the two had an apparent argument. 

Marchant told police she stabbed Stone once in the neck just below the clavicle, though her attorney Domenic Saraceno has said the incident was self-defense.  

Two Niagara County Sheriff dispatchers were called to testify by Niagara County prosecutors Doreen Hoffmann and Lisa Baehre, who attempted to establish the relative time of the incident, with a cellphone call to 911 first coming in at 10:28 p.m. from Stone’s number. 

A recording of Stone’s voice could be heard during testimony, though the initial call quickly disconnected.

A dispatcher twice attempted to call Stone’s phone as police were dispatched to the area of Second Avenue and Dahlgreen Place, about an eight of a mile from the apartment. 

A second dispatcher reached Stone through his cellphone and briefly spoke to he and Marchant, who identified herself. Neither stated the reasons for the initial 911 call, though one dispatcher said Stone seemed to be intoxicated.  

“If you send cops here there’s going to be a problem,” Stone said to the dispatcher, the recording showed.  

North Tonawanda Police Officer Timothy Sylvester also took the stand, laying out the first few grisly moments of his entry into the apartment Marchant and Stone are said to have shared. 

First on the scene, Sylvester ascended the stairs to the apartment and could hear Marchant scream. Upon entry he saw the couple standing in the bathroom, arms “engaged” as they faced each other. 

“I saw two parties struggling,” he said. “They were struggling, she was screaming.” 

Sylvester testified Stone then appeared to “lunge” at him out of the bathroom just off the kitchen when the officer took the 24-year-old to the ground, face down. A second law enforcement official on the scene also assisted subduing Stone, he said.  

“As soon as he was on the ground he went completely limp,” Sylvester said.

In a split moment, the officer said, “blood started pouring out” of Stone to such an extent that “you couldn’t tell specifically where the wound was.” He used his jacket to apply pressure until paramedics arrived.    

North Tonawanda Assistant Fire Chief Richard Kozak said in his own testimony that Stone had lost three to four liters of blood and died a short while later on the floor of the apartment. 

Photos of the apartment, the red-handled kitchen knife used and Stone and Marchant were also introduced as evidence. Saraceno attempted to show the jury of 10 men and two women that Stone and Marchant had been drinking, with beer cans and bottles scattered about the apartment. 

Marchant, who performed pornography on Internet sites for several years before Stone’s death using the name Scarlett Rouge, was arrested twice on DWI charges since 2011. Stone also had a history of arrests. 

The trial is expected to continue into next week with additional witnesses and a two-hour video interview with Marchant by North Tonawanda detectives.