- Associated Press - Sunday, February 1, 2015

COVINGTON, La. (AP) - Sentencing has been rescheduled to Feb. 13 for a 56-year-old Slidell-area woman convicted of stabbing her son’s 27-year-old girlfriend to death.

Joan Faye Hartman faces up to 40 years in prison for manslaughter in the death of Tanya Knower.

Prosecutors had sought a second-degree murder conviction, which would have meant life in prison, but jurors handed up the lesser verdict Jan. 23.

Judge Scott Gardner denied motions for post-conviction acquittal and a new trial, NOLA.com ‘ The Times-Picayune (https://bit.ly/1zL9xQf) reported.

A defense motion said jurors likely based their verdict on Joan Hartman’s “disjointed and volatile statement in which the defendant was ranting due to the nearly eight years of both verbal and physical abuse she suffered from the victim and her own son,” The New Orleans Advocate reported (https://bit.ly/1zsKNsy ).

Hartman’s sentencing originally was scheduled Friday, but attorney Ravi Shah got a postponement until a date when lead attorney Martin Regan could be there.

Hartman and her husband were housing their son, Richard Hartman, Knower and the younger couple’s two daughters, then aged 6 and 9.

Hartman’s husband has multiple sclerosis and dementia and is in a wheelchair, and the older granddaughter is autistic, and Hartman was taking care of them all, Regan argued at trial.

Knower was killed July 15, 2012.

Hartman testified that she stabbed Knower because the younger woman threatened her after an argument.

Regan argued that the stabbing was self-defense.

The defense motion also contended that the only witness - Hartman’s son, Richard Hartman - is a liar whose testimony shouldn’t be believed.

Hartman testified that he had never physically or verbally abused his mother. However, Regan pointed out to jurors that he had spent six months in jail after pleading guilty in 1997 to misdemeanor domestic abuse against her in Oklahoma. In that case, Hartman admitted kicking his mother in the back.

A defense motion also argued that, when jurors asked for a list of all verdicts and definitions, the judge failed to include acquittal or to ask whether jurors wanted to hear the definition of justifiable homicide.


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