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The Syracuse Post-Standard  (NY)

February 4, 1999

Author: Edwin Acevedo Staff writer

[]A Fulton man accused of trying to kill his wife over what he believed was a relationship over the Internet is likely to remain in jail until he gets a clean bill of mental health. Francis William Kolb, 63, told Fulton police he stabbed his wife, Ida May Kolb, suspecting she was having “cybersex” with another man. Ida May strongly denies any such relationship and has signed a statement demanding the charges against her husband be dropped.

Francis Kolb is being held in the Oswego County jail on $100,000 cash bail or $200,000 bond. Family and friends waved to him as he entered Fulton City Court Wednesday to have his bail reviewed.

With handcuffs attached to a chain around his waist, Kolb tried his best to return the greeting.

Kolb’s lawyer, Ed Dunn of Fulton, submitted a petition signed by 248 of Kolb’s friends and co-workers at Sealright, where he has worked for 42 years. The petition says Kolb is a hard worker, will make his court appearances and is not a danger to anybody. The petition began circulating shortly after the arrest, Dunn said.

“I would suspect those people would never have predicted what allegedly happened,” said District Attorney Dennis Hawthorne Sr., who is handling the case. Police called Hawthorne at home on the night of the arrest.

Ida May Kolb said Wednesday she wants her husband out of jail. She doesn’t believe he is a danger to himself or anyone else. She suggested that politics, not justice, is motivating Hawthorne, who announced last month he is running for re-election.

“If I could send him home and I knew nothing was going to happen, I would do it in a heartbeat,” Hawthorne said.

An independent legal expert, however, agreed with Hawthorne that a cautious approach is a good one.

Vivian Berger, a law professor at Columbia University contacted by The Syracuse Newspapers, said it’s not unusual for victims in domestic-violence cases to be uncooperative with prosecutors. That, in turn, makes it difficult for prosecutors to go forward, Berger said.

“From a neutral standpoint, he may not be a danger to others,” said Berger, a former Manhattan prosecutor. “But serious cases have to be dealt with seriously, and he is a danger to her even if she doesn’t think so.”

Dunn said he acknowledged Berger’s point, “but I don’t think it is at all common for the complaining witness in an attempted-murder case to come to authorities and ask that charges be dropped. My point is, this is not an attempted-murder case.”

So what is it? “It’s a domestic-violence situation,” Dunn said. “We’re still trying to figure that out.”

City Judge Spencer Ludington adjourned the case until next week, allowing time for a mental evaluation.

Tim Collins, a Sealright employee who started the petition, said he was disappointed when Ludington wouldn’t reduce the bail.

“He’s harmless,” Collins said. “That man doesn’t belong in jail. I trust that man fully. I would even give (him) a place to live if he needed it.”

Francis Kolb faces one count of attempted murder – a felony – and one count of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor.

Ida May Kolb denied she was having any kind of Internet relationship. She said she believes a mixture of medication for depression and sleeping pills drove her husband to last week’s incident.

The order of protection issued against Francis Kolb was amended Wednesday so Ida May could visit him in jail.

Although she has four stitches behind her left ear and four on the ear, she cannot wait to talk to him. She said she will tell him “that I love him and that I want him home.”