Prosecutors will recommend a sentence of eight months in a halfway house for a Baltimore woman who pleaded guilty in the stabbing death of her abusive husband.
Essie F. Logan, 38, pleaded guilty yesterday to the voluntary manslaughter of her 39-year-old husband, Clarence Logan, on Sept. 15.
When Baltimore Circuit Judge Ellen M. Heller sentences Logan in March, prosecutors will recommend a suspended five-year sentence -- with eight months to be served in a halfway house -- and two years' probation. The maximum penalty for manslaughter is 10 years.
In a statement read to the court, prosecutor Donna-Lisa McClendon gave the following account:
On the day of the fatal stabbing, the Logans were fighting in their home in the 1000 block of Brantley St. Clarence Logan had slapped Essie in the face and struck her in the back with a stick.
Essie Logan ran into the kitchen. According to the statement, she turned to the couple's 18-year-old daughter and screamed: "He beat me. Look at my face. How am I going to go to work like this? . . . I'm tired of this. . . ."
Essie Logan grabbed a 12-inch butcher knife and plunged it into her husband's chest. Clarence Logan's last words were to their only daughter: "Call the ambulance and the police. She stabbed me."
When the police arrived, Essie Logan, who worked for a security firm, told them she didn't mean to hurt her husband, who was employed by a printing company. "I just wanted him to stop hitting on me," she said. "Officer, is he dead?"
Outside court yesterday, some of Clarence Logan's relatives acknowledged that he sometimes beat his wife of 17 years. But they expressed outrage at the recommended sentence.
"He wasn't an angel, but he wasn't the devil [his wife] projected him to be," said Clarence Logan's sister, Theresa Frisby. "She did commit a murder. What is a life worth?
"This sends a bad message that with the right lawyer and enough money you could get anything you want from the system," added Frisby, a clerk in the state's attorney's office. "It's just a smack on the wrist. . . . There are alternatives to being sick and tired. All of us can't make the decision to kill our spouses when we have a problem."
McClendon said the evidence clearly pointed to manslaughter. "You have to look at the case," she said.
Manslaughter implies the stabbing was a hot-blooded response to a legally adequate provocation -- in this case, Clarence Logan's beating of his wife the day she stabbed him.
Defense lawyer John S. Denholm Jr. said alcohol may have played a role in the Sept. 15 fight. After his death, tests found the level of alcohol in Clarence Logan's blood to be 0.26 percent, Denholm said. Essie Logan, who has been free on $50,000 bail, told police she had two glasses of gin with Kool-Aid that day. Her husband had been drinking gin out of the bottle, she said.
The Logan marriage was marked by many violent episodes, Denholm said. His client pressed charges against her husband on at least 10 occasions. But her husband would "talk her out of proceeding" with the cases, the lawyer said.
In her statement to police, Essie Logan said fighting was "like a ritual" in the Logan household. The day she stabbed her husband, she said, Clarence Logan was slapping, choking and scratching her face.
She told police the stabbing was not intentional. "He just came into me," she said. "I just grabbed [the knife] to say please don't hit me anymore."