Tonawanda News

January 14, 2014

NT: Prosecution rests in Marchant trial

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — A North Tonawanda detective, a medical examiner and two neighbors testified Monday in a manslaughter trial against Jennifer R. Marchant, 24, who fatally stabbed her boyfriend last year, while Niagara County prosecutors rest their case.  

Dr. Tara Mahar, of the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office, who performed an autopsy on Ralph D. Stone hours after he died, said the kitchen knife Marchant used to stab him had entered nearly 5 inches deep into his left shoulder, cutting into his pulmonary artery and causing him to bleed out. 

Mahar said his death was a result of the stab wound, but when pressed by Defense Attorney Dominic Saraceno, she admitted that there was a slight possibility that a struggle with police officers minutes later inside the Oliver Street apartment may have exacerbated the internal wound. 

The chance - however minute - that Stone's death may have been caused by the struggle, not the stab wound, led Saraceno to call for a dismissal of the trial - a request that Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas denied. 

Mahar also noted Stone "was very intoxicated," citing a toxicology report showing he had a blood alcohol content of 0.285 at the time of his death, a point bolstered by the testimony of another witness, Joshua Snyder, who lived next door from Marchant for about a year before the Feb. 6 fatality. 

Snyder said that when he arrived home from work at 2:30 p.m. that day he heard loud noise coming from Marchant's apartment: "A party, I figured," Snyder said. 

The party lasted until about 8 p.m. But several hours later Snyder's girlfriend, Bessie Fitzgerald, who also testified, said she saw the couple return home together "just talking and laughing." 

Soon after their return, however, an argument broke out. Stone began screaming at Marchant to leave the premises, despite the fact it was Marchant's apartment, according to testimony. 

"She kept repeating, 'please don't do this to me,'" Snyder recalled Marchant saying. Then moments later: "'Oh my God, this can't be happening.'" 

Marchant, former adult entertainer, has maintained that she used the knife in self-defense. But that decision will be left to jurors, who may render a decision on Tuesday in Niagara County Court.