Man who threatened wife is convicted He wielded rifle during argument

November 27, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Westminster man who threatened his wife with a hunting rifle during an argument in April was convicted yesterday of first- and second-degree assault.

Carroll County Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold acquitted Randy L. Stambaugh, 33, on charges of reckless endangerment and use of a deadly weapon with intent to injure, saying he was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant's 30.06-caliber rifle was loaded.

Arnold set sentencing for Jan. 28, saying he had served two tours of duty with the Marine Corps and still doesn't like guns.

"Maybe I better not sentence him today," Arnold said.

As a condition of allowing the defendant to remain free until sentencing, Arnold ordered that Stambaugh have no adverse contact with his wife, Melinda, and have no firearms in his possession.

Stambaugh testified that he grabbed his wife's hair and held her head down on a kitchen counter. He said her head struck an overhead cabinet when he suddenly let go.

Stambaugh said he was angry because he believed his wife had been unfaithful, but that he did not load the rifle after retrieving it from a closet at his home in the 300 block of Crowl Road.

Stambaugh said he loved his wife and wanted only to scare her and "straighten her out."

Prosecutor Melissa Ottey Hockensmith argued that Melinda Stambaugh feared for her life and had no way of knowing whether the rifle was loaded.

"She heard the clicking of the bolt being shut, and he pointed it at her," Hockensmith said.

Robert K. Parker, a Westminster attorney representing the defendant, said his client was depressed and had entertained thoughts of killing himself but never intended to hurt his wife.

Arnold said a weapon does not have to be loaded for a defendant to be found guilty of assault. He said two assaults were committed, in the kitchen when the woman's hair was grabbed and in the bedroom, when the weapon was pointed at her.

Arnold said testimony that Stambaugh was pointing the rifle out the window didn't matter, because Melinda Stambaugh was standing next to the window, close enough to feel threatened.

Pub Date: 11/27/97

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