on January 9, 2014 - 10:24 PM
LOCKPORT – Ralph D. Stone Jr. called 911 but urged police not to come to the North Tonawanda apartment where he was stabbed to death minutes later, according to recorded phone calls played Thursday in Niagara County Court.
The jury in the manslaughter trial of Jennifer Marchant also heard a graphic description of Stone’s death from Officer Timothy Sylvester, the first police officer on the scene.
Marchant, 24, stabbed Stone on the night of Feb. 6, just below the left collarbone with a red-handled steak knife, according to testimony and crime scene photos shown to the jury.
Stone, 24, died at the scene. Marchant was originally charged with murder, but a grand jury indicted her only on charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter. She told police she killed Stone in self-defense.
Niagara County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher Holly Babis said she answered the first 911 call from Stone’s cellphone at 10:28 p.m. The recording revealed a male voice saying “Hello?” but then talking to a woman in the background.
Babis blasted a loud tone over the line to try to get Stone’s attention, but the call was disconnected at the caller’s end.
Babis called back. The call was answered, and a woman’s voice was heard saying, “Who is it?” After Babis triggered the tone again, Stone said, “Hello?” and hung up.
On another callback by Babis, she asked Stone, “Everything OK?” Stone answered, “Yes.”
“Is there a female with you?” Babis asked. Stone said, “No.” Babis noted that she could hear a woman in the background and asked to speak with her. Stone hung up again.
Babis told Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann that she didn’t think the woman sounded as if she was in distress.
Dispatcher Brenda Higgins then took over, calling back again at 10:36. Stone answered but could be heard saying off-mike, “I can’t believe you’re doing that.”
Asked if there was any trouble, Stone said, “Oh, no, it’s OK.” When Higgins asked to talk to Marchant, Stone hung up again.
Higgins called back one last time, and this time Marchant answered. She spelled her name, and then Stone took the phone, sounding emotional and agitated.
“I think everything’s OK,” he said. “If you send cops here, there’s gonna be a problem.” Seconds later he added, “Don’t do this to them.”
Higgins said she thought Stone sounded intoxicated. She dispatched police to the area and told them that Stone had made what seemed to be threatening comments.
Sylvester said he was halfway up the stairs to the second-floor apartment at 10:44 when he heard a woman screaming.
Entering the “wide-open” front door of the apartment, he went into the first room, the kitchen, and from there saw Marchant and Stone struggling in the bathroom across the apartment, with Marchant still screaming. Stone had his back to him.
“I announced myself and said, ‘Police,’ ” Sylvester said. “The male party turned and saw me and lunged at me. … I took him to the ground.”
He said Stone landed facedown and “his body went limp. I turned him over, and blood started pouring out of him. There was so much blood coming out, you couldn’t tell where his wound was,” Sylvester said.
“If you had a garden hose that was pressurized and you cut it in half, imagining the water was blood, that’s how much blood was coming out.”
Sylvester said he called for an ambulance and tried to help Stone. After firefighters arrived, he checked the bathroom and found the steak knife on the floor.