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The New Haven RegisterBy James Tinley, Register Staff
MILFORD — A man who in 2006 slit his wife’s throat with a utility knife and tried to choke her to death after she filed for divorce faces up to 16 years in prison after accepting a plea deal Tuesday in Superior Court.
The deal means Jeffrey Schultz, 46, previously of Mary Ellen Drive, will avoid attempted murder charges in the attack.
Schultz was originally charged with attempted murder, first-degree assault, unlawful restraint and threatening, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of first-degree assault and carrying a dangerous weapon. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.
Schultz accepted the plea deal of a maximum of 23 years in prison, suspended after 16 are served, and five years of probation under the Alford doctrine. The plea means the defendant does not agree with some of the facts in the case, but concedes there is likely enough evidence to produce a conviction.
State’s Attorney Kevin Lawlor said Schultz’s victim, Donna Sheehan, was in “general agreement” with the reduced charges.
Public Defender David Egan offered as a reason for the attack a change in Schultz’s anti-depressant medication.
“Mr. Schultz, for many months, was taking a series of medications, including Zoloft,” Egan said. “While the Zoloft and his medication being altered played a significant role in the events on Aug. 13, we don’t feel the medication and the alteration of it rises to the level of a defense.”
Sheehan, then 37, suffered a 6-inch gash in her throat and had to have a breathing tube inserted by doctors at Yale-New Haven Hospital, but managed to survive. She watched as her ex-husband, clad in a beige prison uniform, pleaded guilty to the attack. Sheehan however
declined to address the court Tuesday.
“No thank you, I have nothing to say now,” Sheehan said outside the courtroom. Lawlor earlier told Superior Court Judge John Cronan that Sheehan was reserving her comments for the sentencing, scheduled for Aug. 22.
Lawlor described the attack this way: Schultz was distraught after his wife of 2½ years filed divorce papers. He entered her Mary Ellen Drive home with the key he still had. Sheehan told him to leave and locked herself in a bathroom, but then came back out to try calling 911. Schultz took the phone from her and pulled a utility knife out of his pocket and slit her throat. He then jumped on top of her and tried to choke her before trying to suffocate her by placing his hand over her mouth and closing her nose.
“Ms. Sheehan luckily and miraculously, to her credit, was able to talk him down and escape,” Lawlor said.
She ran to a house about a block away that had its porch light on, and the homeowner called 911. Schultz was found behind the house with self-inflicted wounds, police said.
James Tinley can be reached at email@example.com or 401-3530