LOCKPORT – Jennifer R. Marchant sat quietly Wednesday as a Niagara County Court jury declared her guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the stabbing death of her boyfriend last year.
Marchant, 24, was jailed to await sentencing March 26. She had been free on a $100,000 bail bond.
The jury of 10 men and two women deliberated about 90 minutes Tuesday and the wrap-up Wednesday morning.
Marchant stabbed Ralph D. Stone Jr., 24, once in the chest. She told police that she did it in self-defense because Stone was chasing her around the apartment on Oliver Street in North Tonawanda in a drunken rage.
The families of both Marchant and Stone wept after the announcement of the verdict.
“Justice was served,” said Michelle Stone, mother of the victim. “I’m glad that it was shown she was the aggressor. (Stone) was not the monster in this case.”
Kimberley Fenzil, Marchant’s mother, said, “I’m stunned, and I’m happy my daughter is the one that’s still alive. She was abused, and she did what she had to do to survive, and I will love her and support her through everything.”
Defense attorney Dominic Saraceno said he was disadvantaged by New York’s restrictive law on self-defense, which imposes on a threatened person a duty to retreat unless he or she has a reasonable fear of facing deadly physical force.
Stone was unarmed but was facing a 220-pound man, whose blood alcohol content was measured in a post-mortem test at 0.285 percent.
Marchant, whose blood alcohol content was measured at 0.06 percent in a police interview two hours after the killing, said she grabbed a knife from a butcher block in the kitchen during the chase.
Marchant, who was on probation for driving while intoxicated at the time of the homicide, was accused but not arrested in two previous domestic incidents with other men, including one in which she allegedly pulled a knife on a man.
The jury wasn’t told that, but it did hear on a videotape of Marchant’s police questioning that she was allegedly assaulted twice by Stone, although she didn’t call police.
The jury also didn’t hear of Marchant’s past as a performer in pornographic Internet videos under the name “Scarlett Rouge.”
“Based on the way the laws are written in New York, I’m not surprised (by the verdict),” Saraceno said. “I think the laws in New York are inadequate to protect female victims of domestic violence. She has to wait until a man is about to kill her before she responds.”
Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann declined to comment on the outcome, but she did explain why the prosecution dropped a second-degree manslaughter charge the grand jury had included in the indictment.
Hoffmann said Marchant had testified before the grand jury and told a slightly different story than the one she gave police in the videotaped interview with detectives shown during the trial.
“The theory she presented to the grand jury included some (claim of) accident,” Hoffmann said. But since Marchant didn’t take the stand at trial, the jury never heard that.
First-degree manslaughter carries a five-year minimum sentence and a 25-year maximum.