The Schenectady woman who admitted to stabbing her longtime boyfriend to death in 2012 won’t see her manslaughter sentence reduced, an appeals court ruled Thursday.
Jacqueline Smalls, now 52, pleaded guilty in 2013 to first-degree manslaughter and admitted to stabbing her unarmed boyfriend, Adrian L. King, once in the chest Aug. 26, 2012, during an argument in the kitchen of the apartment they shared on Van Vranken Avenue. In exchange, she drew a sentence of 15 years in prison.
The plea came after Smalls’ defense attorney appeared ready to argue self-defense at trial, noting previous allegations King had attacked Smalls. Months before his death, he’d admitted in court to choking her.
Prosecutor Christina Tremante-Pelham countered at the time that Smalls did not have a viable claim for self-defense.
Smalls’ appeal focused on the type of sentence she received, a determinate sentence for a specific prison term rather than an indeterminate sentence for a range of prison time, such as 10 to 20 years. Her attorney for the appeal argued she could have been eligible for an indeterminate sentence, had a hearing been held, because she’d been subjected to abuse by the victim.
The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court rejected her arguments, noting she agreed to the sentence and a waiver of her right to appeal, and didn’t request a sentencing hearing.
“Assuming, without deciding, that this particular argument survives ... a review of the record reveals that defendant failed to seek such relief” prior to her plea and the court could not review it. The appeals court also noted Smalls would have been eligible for a lesser sentence only if her case met several criteria at the hearing.
Smalls originally had been charged with second-degree murder. If she had been convicted of that, she would have faced an indeterminate sentence of up to 25 years to life.
No one was in the kitchen with them at the time of the stabbing, but others in the house saw and heard things that suggested drugs as the topic of the argument, Tremante-Pelham said at the time of the plea.