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Simcoe guilty in attacks on wife, officer Faces life sentence after being convicted in nonjury trial

A North Tonawanda man who was charged with trying to kill his wife and a police officer was convicted Thursday on all 11 counts he faced, while his attorney accused police officers of lying under oath during the trial.

Thomas B. Simcoe, 43, of Courtside Drive, could be sentenced to life in prison when he returns before Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza on Dec. 19.

Sperrazza handed down her verdicts without comment. She had presided over a three-week nonjury trial that ended Sept. 25 and took three weeks to consider her judgment.

Simcoe was found guilty of attempted second-degree murder for trying to strangle his wife, Stacey A. Simcoe, with a short rope, and of attempted first-degree murder for trying to stab Officer Jeffrey Smith in the chest with a knife. Smith arrived at the home in the early hours of Sept. 29, 2007, in response to a 911 call from the Simcoes' son.

Sperrazza also convicted Simcoe of three counts each of second-degree assault and attempted first-degree assault, two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and a single count of endangering the welfare of a child.

"I'm speechless," defense attorney Philip Dabney said after the verdict. He said he had told Simcoe to expect conviction on some counts, but not all.

Simcoe, dressed in a blue shirt, gray pants and a blue and yellow patterned tie, offered little reaction as the verdicts were read. As he was led away, he shook his head and seemed to be smiling slightly.

Dabney said Simcoe's mother, who had attended each session of the trial, died early last week, and that weighed on his client's mind.

Dabney charged that North Tonawanda police officers lied on the witness stand.

"Frankly, I believe the testimony of the officers to be incredible, except for Officer [Keith] Glass," Dabney told reporters.

He singled out Lt. Timothy Gray.

"I found his testimony to be altogether false," Dabney said.

"Now I'm speechless," Assistant District Attorney Lisa M. Baehre said when told of Dabney's comments. "The police officers and all of the witnesses testified truthfully, including Stacey Simcoe, much of which was corroborated by each other."

Stacey Simcoe testified that Thomas jumped her as she was sleeping on the couch and put a knife to her head. The couple wrestled over the knife, and she said Thomas choked her twice with the rope.

Thomas Simcoe testified that he was on the couch and Stacey attacked him with a knife. He said he used the rope to force her to drop the knife. He said he had the rope in his pocket because he had been out earlier that night looking to attack a man with whom he believed Stacey had been having an affair.

Smith testified that Simcoe screamed at him, "Shoot me!" He said he threw his gun away when confronted by Simcoe in the darkened house and grappled with him. Smith said he felt blows to his chest and later found cuts in his uniform and damage to his cell phone and a note pad, which were in his chest pockets.

"[Simcoe] stabbed the police officer in the chest three times," Baehre said. The phone blocked two thrusts and the note pad and body armor stopped a third, she said.

Glass testified that Smith charged at Simcoe. According to Dabney, Smith "impaled himself on the knife."

"I believe if my client was inclined to kill Officer Smith, he would have accomplished that," Dabney said. "Officer Glass never testified to my client swinging the knife at Officer Smith."

He said he didn't believe Gray's testimony that he saw three knife thrusts. Glass and Gray said they fired their Taser electronic stun guns at Simcoe to end the fight.

"Justice was served on behalf of both Jeff [Smith] and the wife," said North Tonawanda Detective Capt. Wayne Hall.

Dabney said, "We asked for a bench trial because of the inflammatory factors related to Ms. Simcoe's injuries. . . . It was a calculated risk."

Sperrazza rejected defense contentions that Simcoe should have been acquitted because of extreme emotional distress. Baehre said, "The psychiatric defense, in my opinion, lacked any validity."

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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