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September 19, 2013

Slaying trial set for October

Tonawanda News — LOCKPORT — The trial of a North Tonawanda woman accused of killing her boyfriend with a kitchen knife in February will begin Oct. 7, despite the best efforts of her defense attorney to delay the proceeding.

Jennifer R. Marchant, 23, is facing a first-degree manslaughter charge for the death of Ralph D. Stone from a single stab wound to his neck after an apparent argument inside an Oliver Street apartment. 

The trial date was initially set in August when Marchant declined a plea deal offered by Niagara County Assistant District Attorney Doreen Hoffmann, which would have capped her sentence at 15 years. Marchant could now could face up to 25 years in prison if found guilty by a jury. She was initially charged with second-degree murder, though the charge was reduced. 

Marchant has said she was acting in self defense.

On Wednesday, Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas declined the request of defense attorney Dominic Saraceno that Marchant’s trial begin in November. 

Saraceno cited a change in legal representation since her arrest and the difficulties of interviewing multiple witnesses as reasons for his request as well as the necessity of poring over photographs and calls to county dispatchers soon after Stone’s death. 

“As you know I’m the second attorney on this file,” he said. “Considering the seriousness of the charges I feel I need more time to prepare. I’m not asking for a lengthy adjournment. Just a month.” 

Hoffmann objected to the request stating that Saraceno had more than five months to prepare for a trial after he took over the case on May 16 from Marchant’s previous defense team. Hoffmann projected a trial would last roughly two weeks. 

“Five months is more than a enough time to prepare for a trial,” she said. 

While Farkas appeared to agree with that sentiment, she also left the door open for a possible change following an evidentiary hearing next week. 

Marchant has been free since April when she posted $100,000 bond. 

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

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