BALLSTON SPA -- A Saratoga Springs man who stabbed his wife's cousin to death in 2018 was sentenced on Monday to 20 years in prison during an appearance in Saratoga County Court.
Albert B. Mercer, 63, of Zephyr Lane, was sentenced by state Supreme Court Justice Richard E. Sise after being convicted at an April jury trial of first-degree manslaughter in the death of Patrick D. Collins of Middle Grove. He could have received up to 25 years in prison.
In a victim impact statement, Collins' mother, Gail Daffron, wrote that grief comes over her at unexpected times, from when she is driving to when she is doing dishes. "When the defendant chose to thrust the knife into Patrick's heart, he shattered mine," she wrote.
Collins' longtime girlfriend, Sarah Wicks, described Collins as a charismatic and uplifting person. "His strength, my shield ... his only weakness, that which took his life, [was] the love and loyalty for his family."
Prosecutors said that on June 30, 2018, Collins observed Mercer shove his wife, Lori, at their home, in a small mobile home park just off South Broadway. The domestic incident led to Lori Mercer spending the night elsewhere, but returning the next day. When Collins, 46, went to the Mercer home to check on her welfare after she didn't respond to text messages, an argument broke and led to a fight, during when Mercer stabbed Collins outside the home with a knife with a six-inch blade, prosecutors said.
Mercer was arrested shortly afterward, and was subsequently indicted on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter. After a 10-day trial in April during when Mercer claimed self-defense because he thought Collins was retrieving a weapon, Mercer was acquitted of the murder charge, but convicted of first-degree manslaughter and tampering with physical evidence.
District Attorney Karen A. Heggen credited the Saratoga Springs Police Department, the state police forensics unit and state park police for conducting a thorough coordinated investigation.
"The jury methodically and diligently reviewed all of the physical and testimonial evidence presented and found beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant Mercer had acted with intent to cause serious physical injury to Patrick Collins and had caused Collins' death," she said. "The jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant Mercer was not justified in his actions."
He was found guilty of tampering with physical evidence because he used water from a hose to wash away blood at the crime scene, Heggen said.