Tonawanda News

October 3, 2013

Judge approves police work

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — LOCKPORT — The testimony of four members of the North Tonawanda Police Department will be admissible in the trial of Jennifer R. Marchant, Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas ruled Wednesday. 

Farkas said several “spontaneous statements” made by Marchant to police in the minutes and hours following the Feb. 6 stabbing death of her boyfriend, Ralph D. Stone, were given voluntarily and thus, will be allowed in court.  

Stone died inside an Oliver Street apartment he shared with Marchant, who admitted to stabbing him with a kitchen knife. She was subsequently indicted on a manslaughter charge. 

The testimony was given last week by two North Tonawanda patrolmen, and two detectives, during a Huntley hearing, used to determine the admissibility of statements made to the authorities. 

Officers said Marchant told them that Stone was drunk and indicated that the stabbing was in self-defense. 

“He only gets like this when he’s really drunk,” one officer recalled Marchant saying when he arrived at the apartment after the stabbing. 

Many of the statements were given moments after police entered the apartment as well as during an interview conducted later at police headquarters. 

Farkas said after reviewing a recording of the interview, which stretched into the morning hours on Feb. 7, she believed detectives “were gentle with her,” noting that Marchant read aloud a three-page statement she made to police and without requesting the presence of an attorney. 

“There was certainly no form or concern of coercion,” Farkas said. 

Neither defense attorney Dominic Saraceno nor Deputy District Attorney Doreen Hoffmann objected to her ruling. The trial is scheduled for Nov. 18. A final pretrial hearing will take place Oct. 22. 

Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.