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Mental health defense set for man in attack on wife

Defense attorney Phillip Dabney Jr. served notice Monday that he intends to use a mental health defense when Thomas B. Simcoe goes to trial April 14 on charges of trying to kill his wife and a North Tonawanda policeman.

At Dabney's request, Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza ordered a mental competency evaluation for Simcoe, 42, of Courtside Drive, North Tonawanda.

Dabney said he gave prosecutors a letter informing them that he intends to argue that Simcoe is not guilty because he was under "extreme emotional distress" at the time of the Sept. 29 incident.

Testimony from expert witnesses will be needed to establish that, and the letter gives the prosecution a chance to find experts to challenge Dabney's experts.

Simcoe, who has pleaded not guilty to an 11-count indictment that includes two counts of attempted murder, remains in Niagara County Jail without bail.

"It's no secret that Mr. Simcoe has been suffering from, if not a mental defect, then extreme emotional distress," Dabney said.

According to the prosecution, Simcoe, armed with a kitchen knife, jumped on his wife Stacey as she slept on the couch, slashed her and tried to strangle her with a cable. She lost consciousness in the attack.

Officer Jeffrey Smith broke down the door and confronted Simcoe, who allegedly tried to stab him in the chest three times. Two blows were warded off when the knife struck Smith's cell phone in his shirt pocket, and the third was blocked by the notebook in his pocket.

Assistant District Attorney Lisa M. Baehre said in court Friday that the knife went through the cell phone and Smith's body armor, although he was not wounded.


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