The man who fatally slashed his uncle during a 2018 family gathering in Clinton was sentenced. Resident Superior Court Judge Henry L. Stephens sentenced Jamaal Peterson, 42, to not less than 13 years, ten months and not more than 17 years, eight months, for second-degree murder.
According to news reports, the fatal attack took place in September of 2018 at the home of the recently deceased family matriarch, who was the grandmother of the defendant and mother-in-law of the victim. The family had gathered there after the funeral’s conclusion to spend time together. According to witnesses, the defendant’s mother and the victim had a short disagreement over a thank you card to be sent to an individual who sent flowers to the matriarch’s funeral. The defendant’s mother called over her two boys during the argument to get involved. The dispute, which was never physical, was then set aside.
The defendant then went to the kitchen and grabbed a large serrated knife which he then took to the bedroom of the victim and his wife. The defendant slashed the victim’s upper arm, severing his left axillary vein and artery. The man lost consciousness before medical help arrived and died soon after that. There is no question that the entire family was grieving the loss of the matriarch, but this turn for the worst likely left the family irreparably damaged.
Second-degree murder charges fit the crime
The defendant, who had traveled from California for the funeral, was certainly grieving the loss of his grandmother. Nevertheless, the second-degree murder charge fits the circumstances. There was no premeditation beyond his response to the incident involving the card. Despite the mitigating circumstances, the killing was nevertheless intentional and involved a deadly weapon.
The sentencing was perhaps a little shorter than average – the sentence for second-degree murder is typically 15 years to life. The defendant’s attorney no doubt discussed the heightened emotions that roiled the family on the day of the funeral and the lack of premeditation. There was no mention of any prior criminal history in the news, which likely means the attack was an isolated incident fueled by raw emotion.