Maryland woman sentenced in Mantua hammer attack

Press release issued by Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office:

Marie A. Stuart. 44, Elkton, MD, was sentenced yesterday to eight years in New Jersey state prison after pleading guilty to burglary, assault, weapons offenses and attempted murder in a Nov. 16, 2012 attack with a hammer on the wife of her former husband in the couple’s Mantua Township home.

Stuart pleaded guilty to the charges Sept. 18, 2017 without a sentence recommendation from the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, allowing any penalties to be decided by the sentencing judge.

Superior Court Judge Kevin T. Smith imposed the eight year prison term after hearing statements from Stuart’s former husband and his wife, testimony from a psychologist who examined Stuart and a statement from the defendant.

Judge Smith said the victims were particularly vulnerable in that they were asleep when Stuart entered their home armed with a hammer. An eight-year-old daughter also was asleep in the house. The judge said Stuart claimed she acted on the basis of allegations, that were unfounded, about her ex-husband, but the target of her attack was his wife, who sustained collarbone and leg injuries. Her husband suffered a shoulder injury while subduing Stuart.

The judge said while Stuart had no prior criminal history, six restraining orders had been issued against her between 1994 and 2013.

The burglary, aggravated assault and weapons charges to which Stuart pleaded guilty merged into the attempted murder charge for sentencing because they were part of the same act, Judge Smith said. The sentence is subject to the state No Early Release Act, making Stuart ineligible for parole until she serves 85 percent of her prison term.

Judge Smith denied a defense motion to delay the sentence while Stuart attends to job issues. She is employed as a phlebotomist. Senior Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Dana Anton objected to any postponement of Stuart’s sentence, saying she had been a fugitive for a year after her arrest and release in the hammer attack.