Merced woman who stabbed her husband to death goes free

MERCED, Calif.

/*Courtney Ross*/ gave a small smile as she waited to learn her sentence. The 32-year -old is hearing impaired so a sign language interpreter communicated for her. Courtney watched as a victim's advocate read letters from family and friends of the man she killed, her husband, Johnathan.

"John was a very loving and caring person. He loved life and treated people with respect."

But the defense attorney paints a very different picture of Johnathan, who was also hearing impaired. He says the father of two had a history of abusing his wife, including a conviction for domestic violence in 2008. Courtney claims she was in the couple's bathroom at the /*Tioga Hotel*/ in Downtown Merced last July when Johnathan walked in with a knife. She says they fought, and then she stabbed her husband to protect herself.

Defense attorney, John Garcia said, "The statements immediately at the scene all support that, bruises to the sides of her neck, on her arm, fresh bruises and marks were evident, photos were taken, the police, everyone was aware of this."

Johnathan's supporters claim Courtney was also abusive and argue she killed him out of jealousy because of his relationship with another woman. They wanted her to serve time in prison.

"When you lose a family member, it's always a tragedy for those who have lost someone," Nicole Silveira said. "I had discussions with them and explained the difficulties in this case."

The judge ultimately sentenced Courtney to probation, stating she has no criminal history and that she acted out of fear.

Garcia said, "Courtney just told me she's overjoyed with this, and she's looking forward to meeting with her family, her mother and her children."

Courtney Ross must get domestic violence counseling as part of her sentence. The judge also said he hopes other victims of abuse will have the courage to get help before it becomes a matter of life and death.

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