Stabbing not Manslaughter

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

By Timothy O'Connor
The Times Herald-Record

Goshen - An Orange County jury yesterday convicted a Middletown woman of criminally negligent homicide in the stabbing death of her husband June 20 at their Irwin Avenue home. But the jury of seven men and five women cleared Sandra Smalls-Lee of the most serious charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter.

Smalls-Lee, 34, faces a sentence of up to 1/3 - 4 years in state prison when she is sentenced March 5 by Orange County Court Judge Nicholas DeRosa. Smalls-Lee would have been looking at a possible sentence of 15 years to life if she had been convicted of the top charge. Smalls-Lee stabbed her husband Robin "Nick" Lee, 36, in the heart during a fight in their upstairs bedroom at 26-28 Irwin Ave.

Her lawyer, John Ingrassia of Newburgh, argued that the killing was self-defense. He said Nick Lee was sexually abusing an underage female and his wife confronted him on it. That precipitated the fight, he said, with Nick Lee balling his fists as he came at his wife. She reached out for the knife which was on the TV, they struggled, and he was stabbed.

But prosecutor Michael Milza argued that Smalls-Lee told her mother-in-law she wanted to kill her husband. She told cops there was nothing wrong at the house after someone called 911.

Nick Lee's mother ran screaming from the court when the jury declared Smalls-Lee not guilty of the manslaughter charges. Another family member stormed out, saying Smalls-Lee should "be charged with murder."

Smalls-Lee, who remains free on bail, wept when the jury foreman pronounced her guilty of criminally negligent homicide. She collapsed into her family's arms as they all cried after the verdict.

* Reprinted with permission of The Times Herald-Record

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.