Jeffrey Pearson got on his knees Tuesday in a courtroom and apologized to the ex-girlfriend he savagely stabbed last year outside the Main Place Mall, but Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk sentenced him to 15 years in prison on his attempted murder conviction.
Homicide Prosecutor Thomas M. Finnerty told the judge that if it had not been for two good Samaritans who stopped Pearson, 51, of Marion Street, from further stabbing Jean Cox, 48, on Feb. 25, 2009, Pearson might have been facing a murder sentence.
While on his knees, Pearson, reading from a prepared text, apologized to his victim, who was in court. He also pleaded for mercy. He insisted he was carrying a steak knife to commit suicide "in front of" Cox and her new boyfriend after their most recent falling-out.
His lawyer, Louis P. Violanti, argued that the attack represented only "two minutes of [Pearson's] life." He also told the judge that his client, a reformed drug addict, is "an emotional man who suffers from depression and anxiety."
Pearson insisted in court that he just "snapped" during the attack.
He was found guilty by the judge after a two-day trial in April. Besides attempted murder, he was convicted of aggravated criminal contempt for violating a court order of protection that the victim had obtained against him before the attack and aggravated harassment for threatening telephone calls he kept making to her.
Pearson testified at his trial that Cox had "accidentally" fallen on his knife five times.