Dracut Man Gets 8-10 Years for Stabbing His Wife
LOWELL -- The Dracut man who repeatedly stabbed his wife before intentionally crashing his car into a tree last year agreed to admit his guilt in exchange for a sentence that includes 8 to 10 years behind bars.
James O’Neil, 60, decided to plead guilty after consideration of a trial’s impact on his family, including his son, expected to be a key witness for the prosecution, according to O’Neil’s attorney, Debra Dewitt.
“He’s looking to put this all behind him and let his children be able to move on also,” Dewitt said.
O’Neil has two children who are both in their 20s, she added.
Police reports say a family member of O’Neil called 911 just after midnight Jan. 16, 2018, when he heard screaming in the family’s home at 7 Sesame St., and went into the basement to see what was wrong.
The family member went downstairs to find O’Neil, who had been drinking, standing over his wife with a knife in his hand as the wife lay propped up against a wall and screaming for someone to call 911, according to police reports.
O’Neil fled before Dracut police arrived, though investigators later found a blood-covered butcher knife in a bush outside a basement door, according to police reports.
O’Neil’s wife was found by police lying on the basement floor in a large pool of blood, according to police reports. The 50-year-old was suffering from more than a half dozen stab wounds to her chin, neck, shoulder, upper arm, left hand, and legs.
Barely conscious, officers asked the woman who stabbed her. She replied “my husband,” police reports stated. She survived the attack.
O’Neil was found a short time later, unconscious and trapped inside a Mercury Marquis that had slammed into a tree at Methuen Street and Parker Road in Dracut, not far from the family’s home.
After being freed from the vehicle, he regained consciousness and told police he “didn’t want help” and that he “knew where he was going,” according to police reports.
O’Neil, who suffered a broken leg and several broken ribs, was placed in a medically induced coma at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center. When he was well enough, he was arraigned and the hospital handcuffed to a bed inside the emergency department.
“By all accounts, this was something that was very uncharacteristic of him,” Dewitt said of the gruesome crime her client committed.
According to the attorney, O’Neil’s wife provided a statement to the court indicating O’Neil was generally a very quiet family man.
In addition to armed assault with intent to murder, O’Neil pleaded guilty in Lowell Superior Court to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury, and assault and battery on a family or household member, according to court documents.
A charge of larceny over $250 originally filed against O’Neil was dropped by prosecutors.
Aside from the 8 to 10 year prison sentence, O’Neil was sentenced to three years probation that he will serve once he is released from prison, according to court records. He also must submit to a mental health evaluation, must stay drug and alcohol free, submit to random drug and alcohol tests, complete a certified batterer’s intervention program, receive AA counseling four times a week and have no contact with witnesses named in the court record.
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