Michael Conway and his family had fallen on financial hard times and were evicted from their Millersville home, so Conway stayed with friends while his wife and the couple's three children moved into the Sarah's House shelter.
The arrangement was meant to enable the couple of 13 years to regain their financial footing and eventually reunite under one roof, Marianne Conway said yesterday. But on June 4, 2005, Michael Conway, 38, was killed by a friend, Marcus Aron Christian, with whom he had been staying in Jessup.
On May 26, her eldest child's 14th birthday, Marianne Conway and her children watched as Christian received the maximum sentence of 30 years for second-degree murder.
"I would have liked to have seen one year for every stab wound, but I am glad that he got the maximum sentence," Conway said.
Her husband was stabbed 62 times, with many of those wounds to his back.
She and her children have since moved into an apartment in Glen Burnie. Her sons speak little of the pain of their loss, but her 10-year-old daughter frequently talks about how much she misses her dad, Conway said. The slaying robbed them of their innocence, she said.
Christopher, the 14-year-old, was so upset that the prosecutor read most of the victim impact statement the teenager had prepared to read, his mother said.
"He had said that if you think you killed my father you are wrong. As long as my sister, my brother and I are alive, so is my father. He said, I hope you die slowly - only then will you know my pain," she said.
In a victim impact statement, Conway wrote that she worries about the children, as the boys' interest in school has waned.
Christian, 47, maintained during his trial in March that he acted in self-defense. He intends to appeal.
"He did not feel that he was a murderer and that he did act in self-defense," his lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Elizabeth W. Palan, said yesterday.
Palan said her client apologized to the Conway family in court.
She said that psychiatrist Leonard Hertzberg testified at the sentencing that Christian suffered from bipolar disorder and needed care for substance abuse. As part of the sentence, Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Michele D. Jaklitsch recommended that the prison system evaluate Christian for placement in Patuxent Institution in Jessup, which treats mental disorders.
In a letter to the judge before sentencing, Christian wrote that his friend had "busted down my bedroom door with a baseball bat in his hand" and that he retaliated with a knife in fear. Nevertheless, he wrote, "I cannot deny that I had involuntarily lost total control of my senses and for this I am truly very sorry and deeply remorseful."