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MAN FOUND GUILTY OF SEVERELY BEATING WIFE

Ulner Lee Still stood stoically as the court clerk repeated the word "guilty" over and over and sheriff's deputies closed handcuffs around each wrist.

A State Supreme Court jury found the 50-year-old musician guilty Monday of severely beating his wife in their Amherst home during what prosecutors called a two-month "reign of terror" in which she was repeatedly whipped, beaten and kicked in front of the couple's children.

The jury convicted Still on six counts of felony assault and six counts of misdemeanor assault against his wife, Susan. He also was found guilty of two counts of child endangerment.

This case, described by law enforcement as one of the worst cases of combined mental and physical abuse they have ever seen, was unusual because prosecutors had a 50-minute video recording of the husband beating his wife.

"Susan's life has been vindicated," said Lisa Bloch Rodwin, chief of the district attorney's Domestic Violence Bureau. "People believed her. She was so afraid no one would believe her."

Defense attorney David G. Jay had said Still admitted to committing the abuses on the video, but called it "a momentary lapse" in an otherwise unblemished family history. In his closing argument he said Still may not have been present for all of the alleged assaults and some were not as severe as stated by the prosecution.

Rodwin, meanwhile, used Ulner Lee Still's own words to encourage the jury to convict him.

Replaying three minutes of the video in which Susan Still's body is curled up and shuddering from the force of his blows, she is heard whimpering that she doesn't know what to do or say to appease her husband.

"Tell me again you don't know what to do," he yells at her, landing kicks up and down her body. "I've told you time and time again, follow the rules of the house!"

Rodwin said Ulner Lee Still was trying to teach his wife a lesson.

"You're the teacher now," she told the jurors.

Still's conviction could land him up to 42 years in prison. Sentencing before State Supreme Court Justice John F. O'Donnell is scheduled for Dec. 20.

Both Rodwin and co-prosecutor Louis Haremski said they were shocked at the "insidious" manner in which the defendant wielded control over his entire family.

His trial was the first held in the Integrated Domestic Violence Court under Justice O'Donnell. This new court consolidates cases in which a family is dealing with divorce or child custody matters in addition to domestic violence allegations.

Susan Still, 42, has custody of the family's two sons, ages 9 and 14. She has filed for divorce and left the area.

The couple's oldest daughter, now 22, had continued to live with her father and testified on his behalf. She cried as he was led away to jail.

e-mail: stan@buffnews.com

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