A North Carolina man was found guilty Sept. 21 of maliciously wounding a woman in June 2019 by attacking her with a knife.
Zachary Austin Stantliff, 20, was charged with aggravated malicious wounding from the June 9 incident, which alleged he caused serious injuries with permanent impairment. As part of a plea deal, he entered an Alford plea to a downgraded charge of malicious wounding. In an Alford plea, a defendant doesn’t plead guilty but acknowledges there’s enough evidence of a crime to convict them; the effect is the same as a guilty plea.
Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Daniel Rutherford said Stantliff and the victim were at a party at someone else’s house near the 3200 block of Crabtree Falls Highway that night. The victim and Stantliff were both near a vehicle when he started cutting her with a knife several times for no apparent reason.
Others there drove the woman to a point where emergency responders could get her and treat her, Rutherford said, and when law enforcement went back up to the home, Stantliff wasn’t there.
Matthew Pack, representing Stantliff, said the incident involved tainted methamphetamine, since many who were there reported having adverse reactions they didn’t anticipate.
Rutherford said the victim determined Stantliff was the one who stabbed her, and though Pack said she didn’t identify his client at first, she was adamant about it in later court hearings. Her credibility would’ve been an issue for a jury to decide, but with the coronavirus pandemic delaying many trials, he said the plea was in Stantliff’s best interest.
As per the plea agreement, Nelson Circuit Court Judge Mike Doucette sentenced Stantliff to two years and five months of active time, with a year of supervised probation following that. He’ll need to be on good behavior for eight years, including abstaining from any drug use, and is forbidden to have any contact with the victim.