Tonawanda News

February 7, 2013

Man dead following domestic dispute

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

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A North Tonawanda woman is in jail after police say she stabbed her boyfriend to death Wednesday night in her Oliver Street apartment.

Police were called at approximately 10:30 p.m. to the 580 Oliver Street home of Jennifer R. Marchant, 23, where two officers discovered her boyfriend bleeding profusely from a single stab wound near his collar bone.

At first, officers Timothy Sylvester and Robert Frank weren't sure of the gravity of the scene. When the 911 call came in moments earlier, the disturbance was reported as a domestic incident.

Sylvester entered the second-floor apartment to find the victim, Ralph D. Stone, 24, exiting the bathroom, when he appeared to rush toward the officer in an offensive posturing. Sylvester took Stone to the floor as Frank arrived to assist, before realizing the man was gravely wounded.

Sylvester then used his police-issued jacket as a makeshift tourniquet, applying pressure to stem the significant loss of blood.

"That was probably the only thing he had at his disposal to compress that much blood," Police Chief Randy Szukala said.

It was a during a shift change that the grisly discovery was made, as police and paramedics flooded to Oliver Street. But despite the number of first responders it was too late to save Stone's life.

Sylvester continued to apply first aid until reinforcements arrived as Frank took Marchant aside. Stone, an 11th Avenue resident, died inside apartment 3 a short while later.

Investigators believe Marchant and Stone were involved in a domestic dispute when the stabbing took place. Police said a six- to eight-inch kitchen knife was used as the murder weapon.

"It appears that it's one stab wound through the lower portion of the neck," Szukala said.

Marchant was taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder. Szukala said she spoke to officers, though he could give few details on the nature of that conversation.

But she did tell police during an interview in the waning hours of Wednesday night that she worked for an Amherst bill collector. A search of her Twitter account and other social media sites indicated she had also been an adult film actress from 2009 through August of last year.

Marchant plead not guilty in front of Judge William Lewis Thursday morning in North Tonawanda City Court and is being held without bail at the Niagara County Jail. She is scheduled to return to court on Monday for a felony hearing.

But Marchant's attorney, Kevin Mahoney, who accompanied her in court, said Stone's death was the result of self defense.

"It certainly appears that our client was defending herself in a domestic situation," he said. "Our sympathies to the friends and families of all those involved."

Meanwhile, Szukala said investigators are still trying to determine whether Stone or Marchant initially placed the 911 call to police.

"From what we understand it's possible that both of their voices are on the call," he said. "We don't know if one dialed while the other is the background or vice versa."

Marchant was arrested twice during the last two years for DWI charges in North Tonawanda and the Town of Tonawanda. Stone also has a lengthy arrest record, and was taken into custody 11 times between April 2006 and January 2010 on charges ranging from aggravated harassment to assault with a baseball bat.

Szukala said there does not appear to be a history of domestic violence between the victim and the suspect. The two had been dating for several months, and according to Facebook posts, likely at least since May.

After nearly a decade without a homicide in North Tonawanda, Wednesday's alleged incident was the second in less than in three months.

North Tonawanda police arrested a Michigan native in late-November for killing his girlfriend in her Lincoln Avenue home. Brian Lowry, 32, is now being held on a single count of second-degree murder after he allegedly bludgeoned Heather Rylowicz to death.