Monday, December 13, 2010

Mother sentenced to 9 years prison, 5 years post release supervision for stabbing husband

A mother who stabbed her husband in the same house that their kids lived in was sentenced to 9 years in the New York state prison system and 5 years post release supervision for the attack. According to prosecutors, this stemmed from a desire to cash in on a life insurance policy. The mother was sentenced in Saratoga County Court Judge Jerry Scarano's courtroom on December 2, 2010.

On the night of Nov. 9, 2009, deputies from the Saratoga County Sheriff's Office responded to a 911 call made by Thomas Vautrin from the home the couple shared with their two children, who were then 5 and 10 years old. Police arrived to discover both Thomas and Mary Jane had suffered serious stab wounds, and the couple were taken for treatment at Albany Medical Center.

Mary Jane Vautrin, 36, initially told police she was attacked by her husband. But investigators said her wounds were self-inflicted, so she was arrested and charged with a six-count indictment that included second-degree attempted murder. Those charges were later dropped in favor of a first-degree felony assault charge as part of a negotiated plea deal.

The stabbing incident was believed to be part of a plan to cash in on a life insurance policy in excess of $30,000, which the woman allegedly forged in her husband's name.

The victim impact statement by Thomas Vautrin,"We had a normal life, normal kids, normal problems. That changed one night about a year ago. On that night, I woke up to my wife stabbing me...Why would you want me dead?"

"When I was in the hospital, I prayed not to live through this," said Thomas Vautrin, who has "14 visible scars. "I can't deny I love you," Thomas Vautrin said to his wife in court Thursday morning.
He went on to explain, however, that the attack has had significant repercussions."The (children), pulled from their beds, seeing the blood-splattered walls ..." he said, his voice trailing off in the courtroom.

Thomas also read victim impact statements from the couple's two children. "I can't see you. I can't snuggle with you...No more doing holiday stuff. No putting up the tree. No Halloween with us," the younger child said.

Besides the prison sentence, Scarano issued a permanent order of protection for the victim against his wife.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Girl's basketball coach charged with child seduction for "affair" with 17 year old sentenced to house arrest

(Original Post 12-20-09)
An Indianapolis girls' basketball coach was charged with child seduction Friday, December 18 for having an "affair" with a 17 year old girl. Investigations believed that Sara Strahm, a 28 year old Pike High School basketball coach, began the "relationship" with her charge earlier in the fall. Pike officials notified police about the alleged relationship.

Sgt. Paul Thompson of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said his agency will give more details of the case Monday, when formal charges are filed. "We believe there were five instances of sexual contact between these two individuals. State law clearly states that if you're under 18, you can't give consent if it's a relationship with someone in a position of trust such as a school official." The Metro police department wants others to come forward just in case there are more victims.

Pike Township School Board member Nancy Poore stated that "I'm saddened to hear of an arrest. I'm not passing judgment on whether this is accurate information or whether anything will be proven against this person. . . . But I'm always saddened when I hear there's a problem related to one of our staff members."

Joe Johnson, a parent of a Pike student, said that "A lot of these parents work a lot of hours, and a coach is like a second family. When you get that trust and you break that, it's really disturbing."
Strahm was released on $5000 bond last night after processing at the Arrestee Processing Center.

(Update 12-24-09) Strahm was officially arraigned on six child seduction charges in an Indanapolis courtroom yesterday. There are more details about the allegetions which led to her arrest.

The affidavit said the 17-year-old student who reportedly was involved with the coach told Tiffany Thomas, another member of the school coaching staff. That information on the allegations was given to Pike Township Schools police and then passed along to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, which started its investigation Friday, the affidavit read.

An e-mail that had been sent to the Pike athletic director tipped investigators to the case. The athletic director, James Perkins, is quoted in the affidavit as saying there had been allegations about teacher and student earlier this autumn, that Strahm had denied the relationship, and that he had warned Strahm about contact with members of the basketball team. Both women initially denied, then admitted to the relationship, according to the affadavit.

The victim claimed she loved Strahm, according to the complaint. "She (the student) said she loves Ms. Strahm and did not want to get her in trouble." Strahm has been replaced by her assistant David Barlow,
father of a former standout.

(Update 12-9-10) Strahm was sentenced to a year in jail, with 185 days suspended and the rest on house arrest after pleading guilty to two counts of child seduction. The guilty plea took place November 22, 2010. In Indiana, child seduction carries a 1 to 3 year prison sentence and occurs when a person in a position of trust has sexual contact with a teen between 16 and 18.

The Marion County Prosecutor's Office said Strahm will be on probation for 185 days and must undergo sex offender treatment. She has a no-contact order with the victim. Strahm was ordered to give up her teaching license. Her felonies will be reduced to misdemeanors if she successfully completes probation.

Besides the above consequences, she was also ordered to undergo 240 hours of community service and fired from her coaching job in January.

Wife gets decade for "manslaughter" of husband

A woman who helped her "lover" to kill her husband was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment Wednesday, December 1, in a St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana courtroom. Kendra Talley, a 30 year old mother of an eight year old son, was sentenced to the decade long term after pleading guilty to 2nd degree manslaughter and crystal meth posession last month. Judge Peter Garcia presided over her trial. The "lover," Tommy D. Rowell Sr., is serving a mandatory life without parole sentence for 2nd degree murder.

The deadly night of Dec. 11, 2004, started when Kendra Talley left her home wearing a sweater, a T-shirt and jeans. Her husband stayed home to recover from surgery to remove his wisdom teeth.

Kendra Talley later met up with Rowell and slipped into a blouse, black miniskirt and knee-high boots, and they drove together to the French Quarter to feast on crystal meth, marijuana and potent "hand grenade" drinks, according to witness testimony from Rowell's trial.

They spent most of the evening and morning with friends at a Bourbon Street bar. There, Rowell and Talley argued after Talley gave Carnival beads to another man and flashed him by lifting her leg onto a railing, friends at the bar testified.

Finally, as the sun rose during their journey back across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, Kendra Talley told Rowell that her husband had raped her.

Rowell took Kendra Talley to her home at 108 Gratitude Drive. He honked his horn. Thomas Talley, who had been taking pain medication, stepped outside, wearing only his pajamas. Rowell drew a gun and shot the husband six times, twice point-blank to the head.

Rowell met Kendra when she was 15 and he was 27, meeting through her parents.

David Talley, the victim's brother said through his victim impact statement that the killing robbed the victim of family bonding time, including watching his son grow up. "I know my brother would like to take his son fishing, but he can't - because his life was taken by a selfish act....Zachary's birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter," he said. "The saddest thing in my life was seeing my little brother in his casket . . . all because of bad choices that were made."

Defense attorney Kevin McNary asked Judge Garcia to take into account the single parenting of his client and Zachary's high grades in school. He said his client was not the same person she was "when she was 24," completing a drug rehabilitation program.

Judge Garcia, focusing on the killing, told Talley, "You had a high degree of responsibility," sentencing her to the maximum possible in the plea deal.