Joan Faye Hartman was scheduled to be sentenced Friday for manslaughter in the stabbing death of her son’s girlfriend, but her attorney gained a delay and also filed motions in a St. Tammany Parish courtroom for a new trial and post-verdict acquittal.
Hartman, 56, was tried for second-degree murder last week in the death of Tanya Knower, whom she stabbed twice in the kitchen of Hartman’s Slidell-area home in 2012, but a jury convicted her of the lesser charge. The maximum penalty for manslaughter is 40 years.
Hartman appeared in 22nd Judicial District Court Judge Scott Gardner’s court Friday, a week after her conviction, wearing prisoner’s stripes and shackles as she sat with her attorney, Ravi Shah.
No family members were in attendance, although Assistant District Attorney Jason Cuccia said they had indicated that they planned to come to court and make victim impact statements at the sentencing.
Two women who served on the jury were in the courtroom.
Shah asked that the sentencing be delayed and rejected Gardner’s initial suggestions for new dates because he said Martin Regan, who was the lead attorney in Hartman’s defense, wanted to be there. Gardner set a Feb. 13 date for the sentencing.
In his motion for a new trial, Shah argued that the state’s toxicology expert should not have been allowed to testify because the state had not notified the defense that it would be calling a toxicologist as an expert witness in the case.
He also argued that the jury was not properly charged because the judge didn’t read the circumstances under which the jury should find the defendant not guilty.
In addition, Shah said, Gardner failed to ask the jury members if they wanted him to read to them the definition of justifiable homicide when they requested a definition of all possible verdicts.
In the motion for post-verdict acquittal, the defense argues that the testimony of the state’s only eyewitness to the crime, Hartman’s son, Richard, is not credible because he was proven to have committed perjury on the witness stand.
Richard Hartman testified that he had never hit or choked his mother, but the defense produced a law enforcement officer from Oklahoma who said the son had been arrested and convicted on a misdemeanor charge for choking and kicking his mother.
The defense filing said the jury likely based its verdict on Joan Hartman’s “disjointed and volatile statement in which the defendant was ranting due to the nearly eight years of both verbal and physical abuse she suffered from the victim and her own son.’’
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