Woman guilty in killing


A Pioneer City woman pleaded guilty yesterday to manslaughter in the Jan. 15 stabbing death of her husband during a quarrel in their home. She was sentenced to one year of house arrest and five years' probation.

Merle D. Thomas, 32, of the 1800 block of Arwell Court admitted in Anne Arundel Circuit Court that she stabbed her husband, Steven B. Thomas, after she tried to flee twice and he dragged her into the house from the doorway.

In ordering the sentence, Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. gave Ms. Thomas credit for the six months she served awaiting trial and agreed with a prosecutor's recommendation to allow her to serve the remaining six months under house arrest.

In a statement read into the court record, Assistant State's Attorney Nancy A. Harford said Mr. Thomas, 33, told the couple's 13-year-old son, Steven, four times to fetch a gun that he kept upstairs.

The son kept returning empty-handed, telling his father that he could not find the loaded weapon, Ms. Harford said.

Ms. Harford said the couple had spent the afternoon before the stabbing next door at the home of Mrs. Thomas' sister, Rhonda Stevenson, watching football games and drinking.

They began quarreling after they returned home, shortly after 6 p.m.

Ms. Harford said Mrs. Thomas stabbed her husband once in the chest after she was pushed up against the kitchen sink and got hold of a knife from a nearby drain board.

Mrs. Thomas then called 911 for assistance and admitted to a police dispatcher, "I just stabbed my husband," Ms. Harford said.

Assistant Public Defender Jennifer Corry, Ms. Thomas' attorney, said that the couple met when they were 16, had been married nine years, had two children -- Steven, 13 and Shannon, 8 -- and that Mrs. Thomas never meant to kill her husband.

"She loved her husband very much, and she misses him," Ms. Corry said.

Since the killing, Steven has been in a foster home and Shannon has been staying with another of Mrs. Thomas' sisters, Ms. Corry said.

After the sentencing, Ms. Thomas smiled at her children seated a few rows behind her and mouthed the words "I'm going home to them" as she was escorted away from the trial table by a sheriff's deputy.

Leslie Young, the sister who had been caring for Shannon since January, said she was "relieved" by the judge's decision.

But Ms. Young said her sister has the most difficult time of her life ahead of her.

"She's got to put all this behind her, get her children back and start out her life, on her own, all over again," she said.

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