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Plea wins release in stabbing case

December 11, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - A charge of attempted murder against a Hagerstown woman was dropped Tuesday as part of a plea bargain, allowing her to move away from the area to be with her family.

After Aletha Tonea Brantley pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III sentenced her to time served in jail, which amounted to 113 days.

Brantley was charged in July with attempted first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and openly carrying a dangerous and deadly weapon with intent to injure.

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Those charges were filed after Brantley's husband, Vincent Lamar Brantley, was stabbed in the back with a butcher knife.

Police said at the time that Aletha Brantley told them she was acting in self-defense.

In exchange for Aletha Brantley's plea to second-degree assault, the state dropped the remaining charges.

In court Tuesday, Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Michelle Flores read from charging documents that said Aletha Brantley threatened to kill Vincent Brantley during a heated argument.

Vincent Brantley turned to walk away from his wife. Suddenly, he yelled "ouch" and witnesses saw Aletha Brantley holding a bloody knife, Flores said.

Aletha Brantley, of 213 Rowland Ave., who turns 24 today, has three children with her husband, according to her attorney, public defender John Chillas.

Chillas told Wright that Aletha Brantley planned to move in with her family in Alabama - away from her husband - as soon as possible. She would leave town shortly after her court appearance, if possible, Chillas said.

Wright gave her that chance by not imposing any further jail time or probation.

"I just want to go home and be with my kids," Brantley told Wright.

Wright injected some levity into the proceedings shortly after a spectator in an unrelated case accused the judge and all white people of "railroading" her son.

The judge asked a bailiff to escort the woman, who is black, out of the courtroom. As she left, the woman called Wright, who is white, a prejudiced "honkie."

When Aletha Brantley, who is black, appeared before Wright a few minutes later, he jokingly asked her, "And you don't think I'm a honkie, do you?"

Brantley smiled and shook her head no.

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