Victim: Plea deal ‘insulting’
A man who inflicted a “savage” stabbing on his girlfriend after a night of drinking was sentenced Thursday by a Sagadahoc County Superior Court judge to 15 years in jail — all but 6 1/2 years suspended — and six years of probation.
The state was recommending 15 years with all but eight years suspended and six years of probation as part of a plea agreement.
Assistant District Attorney Patricia Mador told Judge Andrew Horton that Matthew Wycoff had pleaded guilty to elevated aggravated assault Sept. 28.
Under the plea agreement, Mador said, the state was required to dismiss a charge of attempted murder pending in an indictment. The maximum sentence Wycoff faced was 30 years.
She urged the court to require Wycoff to serve more than the eight years recommended by the state, and called the plea deal “insulting.”
Mador said the woman who placed the 911 call saw Wycoff grab Erbes from her chair, throw her to the floor “and appeared to be punching her about the neck and face area.”
“It wasn’t until the blood started gushing and flowing and puddling on the floor that she realized that Katherine Erbes was, in fact, stabbed,” said Mador, who played a recording of the 911 call in court.
Mador said Erbes was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland with two stab wounds to the neck that required surgery. Doctors noted the knife stopped in both cases within the jugular vein but did not sever it, Mador said.
The knife was found on the floor “close to a pool of the victim’s blood, and the knife had actually broken from the handle,” Mador said.
Wycoff fled the scene and was apprehended by Topsham Police Department at a gas station on Route 196.
“I think up to eight years is insulting,” Erbes told Horton. “He’s ripped my family apart entirely.”
Her son learned what happened on the news, she told the court.
“Both of my careers I cannot do because of the extensive nerve damage,” Erbes told the court. “It’s been almost a year and it’s not getting better. If I’m stressed out, I can’t eat; I aspirate. My 15- year-old daughter had to give me showers.”
“My whole life has been exploited, entirely,” Erbes told Horton.
She said she doesn’t remember the attack, just sending a text message to her mother telling her to have a great day.
“And then I remember waking up and you know, I thought I was dead,” she said. “Yes, it keeps me up at night, and I have a gorgeous scar on my neck. This is not just a black eye.”
She said she didn’t get to see her children for a couple months after the incident because of her extensive injuries.
“The fact that the knife broke on my collarbone, makes me sick. I’m requesting to see the crime scene photos today. ... I want to see what my little girl saw.”
Wycoff casually walked off, she said, and “was getting gas as though nothing happened. Disgusting.”
“I’m asking you to please do the right thing,” Erbes said. “This has been devastating.”
Wycoff ’s attorney, William Baghdoyan, said he and Wycoff “don’t completely agree with the state’s recitation of the incidents in this case” but that this doesn’t mean he isn’t taking responsibility.
Both Wycoff and Erbes were very intoxicated, Baghdoyan said. “Nobody saw how this violent attack began, and the defendant maintains that it indeed was Miss Erbes who picked the knife up first,” Baghdoyan said.
Wycoff doesn’t fit the normal profile of someone that would be seen in court committing such a violent act, he said, calling him “an intelligent, talented and empathic young man.”
Restraints around his wrists and ankles but wearing a suit in court Thursday, Wycoff told Horton he is ashamed of the incident.
The morning of Feb. 20 “is the most regrettable moment of my life. I take responsibility for the whole thing; not just that morning but the prior evening that was consumed by alcohol.”
Not just sorry that he is in jail or lost custody of his son or lost everything he’s worked for, Wycoff said rather he is “truly sorry that I hurt someone that I care about deeply that I never, ever intended on hurting.”
“So all I can do is change,” Wycoff said. He’s changed the way he eats, become vegan and lost 70 pounds. He’s changed the way he thinks. He’s read thousands of pages in books about philosophy and spirituality and self-help topics, equipping himself with “the necessary tools that will be required for me to succeed. I’m truly sorry for all this.”
His parents also spoke in his support, his father stating his son had never been violent with any of the women in his past. His mother told the court Wycoff was class president in high school, where he graduated at age 17 with high honors and was accepted into the pre-med program at the University of Maine.
He also has a 2-year-old son “that he loves very, very much. We love Matthew and we’re behind him,” she said.
The assault, involving several stab wounds in the neck and throat, Horton said, “really can only be characterized as a savage attack,” and a very serious form of domestic violence.
Before issuing the sentence, Horton expressed empathy for Erbes’ statement that the plea agreement requesting only eight years in jail time was “insulting,” also opining that to sentence Wycoff to serve only two years in jail with six years probation — as recommended by the defense — “in my view would send a message to the community that the court doesn’t take this type of situation seriously, and this is a domestic violence crime.” The Legislature had made clear domestic violence is “as significant a problem or an issue as there is.”
“I think it’s a fair sentence,” Mador said after the sentencing.
Horton told Wycoff he has the right to appeal his decision.