Tonawanda News

September 26, 2013

Stabbing details begin to surface

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — LOCKPORT — New details emerged Wednesday during a hearing in Niagara County Court regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of Ralph D. Stone, who in February was stabbed by his girlfriend inside a North Tonawanda apartment. 

Several members of the North Tonawanda Police Department shared sparse, though vivid, images of the night of Feb. 6, when they responded to Dahlgreen Place and Second Avenue for a “walking domestic,” then were redirected by county dispatchers to the apartment where Stone lay bleeding and clinging to life from a single stab wound to his neck area. 

Officer Timothy R. Sylvester, a 14-year veteran, told Assistant District Attorney Lisa Baehre he was the first to arrive at the multi-unit building at 580 Oliver St., when he heard the screams of Jennifer R. Marchant, who is now charged with first-degree manslaughter, as he ascended the stairs of the building to apartment 3. 

“I went to the top of the stairs, turned right and the door was open,” Sylvester recalled. “The screaming was coming from the apartment.”

“‘Ralph was so drunk,’ “Sylvester said he heard Marchant say as he walked into the residence. “‘I went to the front bedroom to get away from him. He only gets like this when he’s really drunk.’” 

He found Marchant in the bathroom after entering the apartment through the kitchen at approximately 10:43 p.m., interviewing her 15 minutes later. 

Two more officers soon joined him, one cuffing Marchant and sitting her on the apartment floor as Sylvester was “working on a male” in another room. During cross-examination, defense attorney Dominic Saraceno asked Sylvester what he did during a 15-minute period between his arrival and the interview. 

“I was trying to keep Ralph Stone from bleeding to death,” he said. Stone died a short while later. 

At 12:15 a.m., police detectives took Marchant back to headquarters, where she was questioned for two hours inside a 10-by-12 foot room with the door left open, according to detectives. Marchant did not request the presence of an attorney during the process, only asking to speak to her mother after signing a waiver and initialing a statement recorded and typed-out in front of her, police testified during the hearing. 

Saraceno has since said his client was acting in self defense.

Four members of the department testified for more than an hour Wednesday in front of Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas, who will make a determination next week on what evidence will be admissible after reviewing the details of a DVD recording and a three page written statement about the incident. 

Farkas also acquiesced to a request by Saraceno to move the start of the trial from Oct. 7 to Nov. 18. Marchant, who did not accept a plea deal that would have capped her sentence at 15 years, remains free on $100,000 bail. 

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