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By Onell R. Soto, STAFF WRITER
August 6, 2003
Medications played a role, defense says
EL CAJON – An 81-year-old San Diego man with mental problems cried in court yesterday while accepting a plea bargain in which he admitted he killed his wife of more than 60 years.
Elmo Sabine Sr. pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the June 8 slaying of his 80-year-old wife, Marion Sabine, in their son’s Lemon Grove condominium.
“He basically stabbed her to death,” Superior Court Judge Larrie Brainard said during yesterday’s hearing. Sabine is scheduled to be sentenced to a 12-year prison term Sept. 3.
Medications for Sabine’s mental problems played a role in the killing and made it impossible for him to form the intent to kill needed to commit murder, defense lawyer Stan Jones said after yesterday’s hearing.
Marion Sabine’s family was satisfied with the plea agreement in which murder charges were dismissed, prosecutor Jennifer Gianera said.
“It’s a sad case,” she said.
Had he been convicted of murder, Sabine would have faced spending the rest of his life in prison, which he might do anyway. Both lawyers noted he will not be eligible for parole for more than 10 years.
Elmo Sabine Jr. told detectives his father suffers from a mental condition that sometimes makes him “demented and violent,” according to court documents.
The couple, he said, were staying with him for a few weeks while their Skyline home was being remodeled.
When the son came home to his condominium about 2:30 p.m. June 8, his mother lay dead on the living room floor and his father had self-inflicted knife wounds to a wrist and the inside of his thighs, according to court documents.
Sabine told detectives he asked his wife if he could return to their home, the prosecutor said outside court.
When she said no, he became violent, knocked her to the ground, grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed her repeatedly, Gianera said.
Marion Sabine died of two stab wounds to her abdomen and one to her chest, the prosecutor said.
Jones said Sabine was having trouble with his medications and doctors were adjusting his prescriptions for Xanax, Effexor and Prozac at the time.
The changes left Sabine feeling strangely, Jones said outside court.
“He told police he felt like he was going bananas,” Jones said.