LOCKPORT – A neighbor saw Jennifer Marchant and her boyfriend Ralph D. Stone Jr. “giggling and smiling” about 10 minutes before Marchant stabbed Stone to death, Assistant District Attorney Lisa M. Baehre said in her opening statement in Marchant’s manslaughter trial Wednesday.
Baehre told the Niagara County Court jury of 10 men and two women that they will hear tapes of 911 calls made by Stone on the fatal night of Feb. 6, and they will view a two-hour video of Marchant’s questioning by North Tonawanda police.
“This defendant confessed to taking a knife from a butcher block and stabbing Ralph Stone, who was not armed with any weapon,” Baehre said.
Marchant, 24, told police at the scene and in the interview room that she killed Stone, 24, in self-defense in their apartment at 580 Oliver St., North Tonawanda.
Marchant, a former performer in Internet pornography under the name of “Scarlett Rouge,” is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter.
First-degree manslaughter is defined as killing someone while intending to do the victim serious harm; second-degree manslaughter is recklessly causing a death.
But if the jury rejects both scenarios and agrees that Marchant killed Stone in self-defense, she will be found not guilty.
The maximum sentence for conviction on the first-degree count is 25 years in prison; the maximum for second-degree manslaughter is 15 years.
Defense attorney Dominic Saraceno did not address the specifics of the evidence in his brief opening statement, instead emphasizing that Marchant is innocent until proven guilty. “I’m confident that once you hear all the evidence, you will come to the right decision,” Saraceno told the jury.
Baehre started her statement by walking across the courtroom, pointing at Marchant and declaring, “This defendant took a 12-inch knife and plunged it into the chest of an unarmed man.”
She said Stone bled to death “in a matter of couple of minutes,” because the knife had detached his pulmonary artery from his lung.
Baerhe said Betsy and Joshua Snyder, residents of an apartment across the hall, heard a loud party going on most of the day. .
Baerhe said the activities involved heavy drinking and game playing, including “beer pong,” before the neighbors noticed that things got quiet.
Betsy Snyder is expected to testify that she was outside smoking at 10:15 or 10:20 p.m. when she saw Marchant and Stone get out of a car “giggling and smiling.”
But 10 minutes later, Baehre said, “They heard Ralph scream, ‘Get the [expletive] out of my house!’ ”
Moments later, they heard Marchant yell, “Don’t do this to me!” and shortly after that, “He’s dying right here. Somebody help him.”
Baerhe said police responded quickly to the 911 call and found Marchant and Stone in the bathroom.
“Ralph Stone turned and took his last few steps, stumbling toward the officers,” Baehre told the jury. Officers said he and Marchant were covered in blood.