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HARTFORD, CONN.-The recent arrest of a Connecticut lawyer in the fatal stabbing of a neighbor he allegedly believed had sexually assaulted his 2-year-old daughter has captured the attention of the state’s legal community, which has seen several of its members convicted of theft and embezzlement, but few for crimes of passion. In the days after Fairfield, Conn., patent attorney Jonathon Edington’s Aug. 28 arrest for the slaying of neighbor Barry James, the intrigue regarding the alleged crime turned to questions about Edington’s possible defense strategy. Edington, 29, initially retained Stamford, Conn., criminal defense attorney Michael “Mickey” Sherman, although, in a Sept. 1 article in the Connecticut Post, Sherman said he is no longer Edington’s lawyer. Speaking after Edington’s arraignment on Aug. 29, Sherman said Edington became enraged upon learning from his wife that she believed that 58-year-old James had sexually assaulted their daughter-a claim police are still investigating. James was stabbed nearly a dozen times, allegedly by Edington, who, police claim, jumped through James’ bedroom window to attack him. A short time after the killing, police said they found Edington in his home, standing by his kitchen sink with his hands and arms covered in the victim’s blood. A large kitchen knife was next to him on the counter, according to news reports. James had no criminal record, other than an arrest for drunken driving in 2001. But in recent months, Edington had complained to the Fairfield police that James was exposing himself in front of his bedroom window, in view of Edington’s family, Fairfield Police Captain Gary McNamara said. Edington graduated with an engineering degree from Syracuse University. He became a member of both the U.S. patent and New York state bars in 2003, and successfully sat for the Connecticut bar in 2006. Waving ‘terrible flag’ The extraordinary facts of the case have piqued the interest of many in the state’s criminal bar. Prosecutors, defense attorneys, even judges, were “buzzing” about the incident, reported attorney William Westcott of Corsello & Cohen in Norwalk, Conn. “The overarching visceral response of defense attorneys-other than wishing such a high-profile case would come their way-was that, in this case, a defense attorney would finally get to wave the terrible flag about the horrors of child molestation,” Westcott said. Even a judge commented that he might do the same thing if he learned that his granddaughter had been abused, Westcott said. To M. Hatcher “Reese” Norris, of Butler Norris & Gold in Hartford, the case is strongly reminiscent of one he had 14 years ago. His client was Giuseppe Spina, who was charged with the stabbing murder of his estranged wife, JoAnn Spina. Despite a damaging probable cause hearing, featuring the gripping testimony of the victim’s teenage daughter who witnessed the incident, Norris subsequently was able to convince the prosecutor, Hartford Assistant State’s Attorney Herbert Carlson, to let the defendant plead to manslaughter. “It was our evidence of EED [extreme emotional disturbance] that did it,” Norris said in an interview last week. EED, a rarely successful statutory affirmative defense available only in murder cases, permits defendants to be found guilty of manslaughter if they can show that, at the time of the crime, they were so overwhelmed by a triggering event that they could not conform to the requirements of the law, New Haven Public Defender Thomas Ullmann explained. Successful EED defenses don’t permit acquittals-only a reduction to manslaughter.

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