Niagara Gazette

March 26, 2014

COURT: NT woman sentenced in stabbing case.

By Michael Regan
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — A North Tonawanda woman was sentenced Wednesday in Niagara County Court to 12 years in prison for fatally stabbing her boyfriend in her Oliver Street apartment last year. 

Jennifer R. Marchant, 24, was convicted by a jury of first degree-manslaughter and was facing five to 25 years in prison for the death of Ralph D. Stone, whom she admitted stabbing once in the neck with a 12-inch kitchen knife, which struck a major artery causing him to bleed out within minutes.  

The jury dismissed Marchant's self-defense claim, finding insufficient evidence that she had no other recourse to Stone's physical abuse, during a drunken late-night domestic incident that her defense attorney, Dominic Saraceno, cast as a room-to-room battle for survival. 

The jury, however, disagreed, finding Marchant guilty in January of the crime.

As Niagara County Assistant District Attorney Lisa M. Baehre and Saraceno reiterated the themes of the case that had been prevalent during a five-day trial, Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas laid the blame on Stone and Marchant, both of whom had histories of arrests. 

The reputations of Marchant, who performed Internet pornography under the name "Scarlett Rouge" and had been arrested twice for DWI in the years leading up to the Feb. 6, 2013 incident, and Stone, who had been arrested at least 11 times before his death, were called into question by Farkas, who noted that neither side of the legal aisle would be happy with her sentence. 

"I think there is responsibility on both sides," she said, addressing the courtroom. 

Farkas also noted that several police detectives had expressed remorse that Marchant was found guilty of the manslaughter, stating that they were familiar with Stone's past, including violent incidents with other women. 

She also recognized that Stone was heavily intoxicated, with a blood alcohol content of 0.285, about three and half times the legal limit. Marchant's blood alcohol content was 0.06 at the time of her arrest. 

Police were called to Marchant's apartment after several 911 calls were placed to county dispatchers by Stone. When they arrived to an open door, they initially encountered Stone, who was described as lunging at one officer before he was taken to the kitchen floor, where he later died. 

Marchant, who was discovered in the home's bathroom with a blood-stained knife  — the same room Stone was stabbed — told police "I thought he was going to kill me," according to a two-hour interview with detectives. 

In an emotional plea to the courtroom prior to sentencing, Stone's mother, Michelle, said her son was "fooled at the kind of person (Marchant) was, evil."

Marchant, who also addressed the court, her voice cracking, said she recognized how many people Stone's death has affected. 

"I loved him too, a lot, but I did everything I could that night," she said. "I begged him to stop. I should have known better." 

In an interview with the Tonawanda News following sentencing, Marchant's mother, Kimberly Fenzel, said the family would consider an appeal as well as a change in legal counsel. Her father, Edwin Marchant, stood firm on his stance that Stone's death was in self-defense. 

"My daughter did what she needed to do to protect herself," he said. "All the evidence showed that."