YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Just before she was sentenced Wednesday to at least four years in prison, Michelle Jones told a judge in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that she feared for her life when she stabbed a woman over three dozen times during a fight in January 2020.
While Judge John Durkin agreed Jones did not start the fight when the attack happened, she turned instantly from defending herself to being the aggressor.
Judge Durkin acknowledged the 49-year-old Jones does have psychiatric issues and a “tragic” background, but that does not make up for the fact the victim was stabbed so many times.
“That does not justify what happened because you became the aggressor,” Judge Durkin said.
Jones was sentenced to four to six years in prison for the Jan. 14, 2020 stabbing at a W. Boardman Street apartment downtown. She pleaded guilty in April to a charge of felonious assault.
She had already spent 483 days in the county jail before her family managed to post her $20,000 bond. She has been on house arrest since then.
Assistant Prosecutor Joe Maxin said investigators found the knife Jones used when she was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Campbell shortly after the stabbing.
Defense attorney Ross Smith asked for a sentence of probation. He said his client has already served at least 17 months of incarceration and she needs mental health treatment, which would be easier to get if she was not in prison.
Smith said the fight started in the apartment of a third person while they were all drinking and his client cooperated with police. He said she had the right to defend herself, but added she went too far.
“You don’t bring a knife to a fistfight,” Smith said.
The victim tearfully told Judge Durkin the attack has changed her life forever.
“This has put a load on my life,” the 55-year-old woman said. “There’s all those scars I have to look at every day. I have to live with this. My self esteem went down and my nerves are shot. It’s hard to live like this. It ruined my life.”
Jones said she thought she would die when the victim attacked her.
“I learned my lesson, your honor,” Jones said. “I’ll never do it again. I changed my life.”
“I feared for my life. She was on top of me.”
Jones will get credit for the time she has already served in jail toward her prison sentence.