Prozac defense fails in wife’s murder — (Tucson Citizen)

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A New Yorker is convicted in the stabbing. He had been captured in March south of Tucson after fleeing his home.

AUBURN, N.Y. – A down-on-his-luck businessman was found guilty of second-degree murder yesterday in the death of his wife.    Bernard Sorrentino, 47, was accused of stabbing his wife 66 times and slashing her throat in the bedroom of their home in March.

He was arrested in March in southern Arizona as a fugitive and returned to New York for trial.

“I think it’s an excellent result. It think it shut the door on the contrived sham defense that the defendant was bringing forth,” Cayuga County District Attorney James Vargason said.

Vargason argued that Sorrentino was of sound mind the night he killed his wife and not a “victim” of mixing drugs and alcohol.

Vargason said Sorrentino was “flat-out angry” when he killed his wife, Angela, 37, after learning she planned to leave him.   The prosecutor read an excerpt from the journal that Sorrentino kept during his two weeks on the run from police, who finally arrested him in the Arizona desert.

Vargason said Sorrentino wrote, “I grabbed the knife. When I turned on the light, I saw the damage that I had done.”

Sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 28.

Sorrentino faces a maximum of 25 years to life in prison.   Sorrentino’s attorney, Felix Lapine, said he would appeal.  Lapine presented an insanity defense during the seven-day trial, based on Sorrentino’s use of Prozac in the several weeks leading to the murder and a mix of drugs and alcohol Sorrentino ingested the night of the killing.

Lapine described Sorrentino as a “ticking time bomb, loaded with Prozac” and said the stabbing was an act of rage fueled by the drugs and alcohol.

Sorrentino told doctors he was under the influence of codeine, Prozac and wine when he killed his wife.

He said that after a brief sexual encounter with her, she taunted him by calling him fat, ugly and an assortment of colorful metaphors.

Enraged, Sorrentino said he grabbed a knife in the bedroom and held it to his wrist, threatening to kill himself.   When his wife told him to go ahead and commit suicide, Sorrentino said he blacked out, only to be reawakened by his dog tugging at his arm.

During the trial there was testimony that Sorrentino was taking Prozac to treat depression and the pressure he was under from failed business dealings.

Witnesses testified that Sorrentino had heard of his wife’s plans to move out and learned that she had taken out a mortgage for a new home on her own.

Friends and family members testified that Bernard Sorrentino was abusive to his wife and children.

Prosecutors provided evidence that Sorrentino had just filed for bankruptcy for a second time, claimed no assets and had lost his car salesman job.

Sorrentino fled New York after the slaying and was spotted more than two weeks later at a border crossing as he was entering the United States from Mexico in his sport utility vehicle.

He sped away, eluded police after a high-speed chase and fled on foot into the desert.

He was arrested four days later, on March 30, in Hereford, southeast of Tucson, after he knocked on a woman’s door and asked her to call a cab. The woman, who had seen photos of the fugitive, agreed to help but called police instead.