PD: Phoenix woman stabbed new husband to death during family fight

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Police are trying to determine if self-defense came into play when a wife allegedly stabbed her husband to death in their Phoenix home.

It happened at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the neighborhood of 19th Avenue and Earll Drive, north of Thomas Road.

At this point, police are not releasing the names of anybody involved in the incident.

According to Sgt. Steve Martos, a 49-year-old woman called 911 and told the operator she stabbed her husband.

The 43-year-old man later died at a local hospital.

Homicide detectives said the couple had married recently -- within the last two weeks -- and that the woman has a 28-year-old son from a previous relationship. That son, who has a diminished mental capacity according to police, was visiting his mom at the time of the stabbing.

Detectives said the son and the husband got into an argument that turned physical. That's when the suspect stabbed her husband, Martos said.

Stormy Chard, a long-time resident of the area, said she was stunned by the violence. She doesn't recall anything like this happening in the neighborhood before.

"This is a big surprise," she said. "This is normally a very, very quiet residential pocket in the Valley."

Chard described the couple as "very quiet."

"They did not create any problems in the neighborhood," she said.

"I didn't see what happened," Chard continued, "but there were six squad cars, two fire trucks and the Police Department mobile unit was parked here until 2:30 in the morning."

Detectives spent hours piecing together the events leading up to the stabbing.

"Our investigators questioned the suspect and the issue of self-defense/defense of a third party was raised," Martos wrote in a news alert.

Under Arizona law (ARS, Title 13, Chapter 4), the same general standards apply to self-defense of a third person. Force, even deadly force, can be considered justified "... when and to the extent a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself [or a third person] against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful physical force."

It's not clear if there's a history of trouble between the son and the husband. It's also not clear what sparked Thursday evening's fight or exactly what prompted the woman to grab a knife and step in.

"She ... believed that in order to defend her son she needed to stab her husband," Martos said.

The suspect was released shortly after detectives questioned her pending the outcome of the investigation. Martos said detectives will be consulting with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which will make the decision on whether to charge the woman.

Martos said he would release more information about the incident and what happens next as it develops.