A 43-year-old woman accused of fatally stabbing her boyfriend was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter Tuesday.
Veronica Reynolds of Mohr Street originally was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Brian Smith, 59, on July 6, 2016, and faced the possibility of 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio, however, found Reynolds not guilty of murder and instead convicted her on the lesser charge, a nonviolent felony, after a nonjury trial. Reynolds faces five to 15 years in prison when she returns to court Nov. 30 for sentencing.
She also was convicted of assault for stabbing Smith’s brother in the leg when he tried to take the knife from her.
Prosecutors John P. Feroleto and Lynette M. Reda set the scene of what happened.
Reynolds and Smith shared a cottage at the rear of the Mohr street address with Smith’s brother, Timothy Washington. Reynolds’ sister and her boyfriend lived in the front house. It was a nice summer day, so they decided to have a cookout. Reynolds’ sister and Washington testified everyone was getting along well during the day and into the evening.
They also agreed Reynolds was drinking a lot, until she finally fell out of her lawn chair face-first onto the ground. She was taken in to go to bed once by her sister and a friend, but came back out and didn’t go back in the house until the gathering was breaking up.
Washington testified Reynolds and Smith argued a little, and that Smith, who also had been drinking, was complaining about how much Reynolds drank. Washington said he tried to break up the argument and took his brother into his bedroom while Reynolds went to the kitchen. Then he said, as he was going to his own room, he heard his brother hollering
“She’s stabbing me,” and found Reynolds attacking his brother with a large kitchen knife.
Washington was stabbed in the leg as he wrestled the knife away from Reynolds, he said.
Reynolds sister testified she heard the commotion and ran to the back house, where she saw Smith, bleeding badly, lying in the doorway of his room, with Washington holding him. She called 911 and the audio of her frantic plea for help was played in court.
Reynolds, who walked naked through the yard to her sister’s house after the stabbing, was arrested at the scene.
When Reynolds was taken into custody, she was wearing only a borrowed shirt, and while she was being held for several hours in a police interview room for questioning she never was given anything to wear from the waist down, but instead was given some type of shirt to hold over herself. Because of that, DiTullio ruled before the trial that no statements would be admissible that Reynolds made during her interviews.
Defense attorneys Jessica Kulpit and Andrew LoTempio called only one witness. Although there had been no testimony about any specific pattern of violence between Smith and Reynolds, who had been together about two years, they put on the stand a domestic violence expert who testified about the effects ongoing domestic abuse can have on an individual.