Press-Republican

May 21, 2013

Woman 'very, very sorry' for stabbing

DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — A Fort Covington woman who stabbed her Alzheimer’s-inflicted boyfriend with a paring knife will spend five years in state prison.

Joan F. Terrell, 64, of 2556 Chateaugay St., said she was “very, very sorry” for stabbing Wayne Henault, 64, during the July 30 incident in the home they shared.

She pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and first-degree endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person.

Franklin County Court Judge Robert G. Main Jr. sentenced her to five years on the assault charge and 1½ to 4½ years in prison for the endangerment count. 

He ordered the terms to be served concurrently and that Terrell also serve three years of post-release supervision.

She was also ordered to pay $375 in court fees and surcharges, and an order of protection was issued for Henault to expire April 1, 2026.

‘RELIED ON HIS BENEFITS’

District Attorney Derek Champagne said Terrell is narcissistic and had already been shown compassion and mercy because she could have faced a higher-grade, violent felony charge for her actions.

He urged Main to sentence her to the maximum seven years on each count, saying she knew she could not handle caring for Henault in his condition but did not want him in nursing-home care because she relied on his disability check.

Public Defender Thomas Soucia said his client has a seventh-grade education, a problem with alcohol and mental-health issues of her own.

“She’s not young; she’s 64 years old. Seven years in state prison is a death sentence,” he said. 

“I believe she is an excellent candidate for probation” through which she could continue to receive mental-health care in the community. 

‘CREDIBILITY SUSPECT’

The judge said he was concerned about the conflicting statements Terrell gave police investigators.

One story she had told was that Henault was attempting to climb the stairs to his bedroom while drunk as she followed behind and that he fell back onto the knife she happened to be carrying.

In another, she said Henault was drunk and uncooperative when she tried to get him upstairs to bed.

“I had enough with him and took the knife and jabbed him in his right side of the back by his ribs,” the police statement says.

“Exactly what happened last July 30 is not known,” Main said. “Her credibility is suspect. What we do know is the victim — while in the care of the defendant — received a puncture wound consistent with stabbing.

“It’s clear the court finds the defendant dangerous and clear to the court she violated the trust placed in her as a caregiver,” he said. 

“It is clear she engaged in conduct that could have resulted in the victim’s death and could be facing a homicide charge instead of an assault and endangerment charge.”

‘TOO VIOLENT’

Main said he heard Soucia’s plea for leniency but he had “not been persuaded by it. The defendant’s conduct was too violent,” she was not successful under previous probation supervision, and her total record of past behavior did not merit probation again.

Champagne said Henault “had complications” following the stabbing and had to be hospitalized for two months.

He was initially treated at Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone before being transferred to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.

Henault now lives in a nursing home.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com