Boardman man headed to prison for trying to kill his wife

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


A Boardman man is headed to prison for nearly 16 years for trying to kill his wife and injuring their young child before threatening to leap from the Market Street bridge in 2012.

John F. Sylvester Jr., 37, of Jaguar Drive, appeared for sentencing Wednesday before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. He had previously pleaded guilty to attempted murder, felonious assault, kidnapping and endangering children.

Natasha Frenchko, an assistant county prosecutor, said Sylvester was charged with stabbing his wife several times, cutting her on her neck, shoulder and hands after an argument in his home in the presence of their son who tried to intervene in the assault. He was charged with kidnapping because he did not let the woman leave the home after the June 3, 2012, attack.

The wife told the court she was estranged from Sylvester at the time of the incident and he became enraged when she would not discuss reconciliation.

After attacking his wife, Sylvester fled to the Market Street bridge where he staged a four-hour standoff with police. Sylvester threatened to jump.

“Words cannot explain the pain and hardship I have had to deal with since that day,” Sylvester’s estranged wife told the court. “He knew what he was doing that day when he walked up behind me and locked the door. ... John is a major liar and has major anger issues.”

The woman said she still has diminished feeling in her hands and parts of her face.

Atty. Samuel Amendolara, representing Sylvester, said in order to understand what took place the day of the stabbing you must first understand Sylvester’s history. He told the court of Sylvester’s speech issues as a child, his athletic achievements, his issues with alcohol, and presented evidence as to Sylvester’s bipolar-disorder diagnosis.

Sylvester apologized to his estranged wife, her family and his family who were all in court. He said he wanted to accept responsibility for his actions.

“What I did was unthinkable, and I regret this from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “I have a mental illness, but it does not give me a right to do what I did.”

This is not Sylvester’s first conviction for trying to kill a romantic partner. In 1999, Sylvester pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of his then girlfriend.

In that case, he was accused of ambushing the ex-girlfriend outside her apartment and shooting her in the head and torso. He was sentenced to seven to 25 years in prison with a three-year gun specification, but was released from prison May 9, 2006.

He married the victim in the recent case in 2008.

Judge Krichbaum said one of the most-disturbing aspects of the case is that it has happened before. He said he is bound to make sure it does not happen again.

“It is very difficult for any of us who understand what love is to understand how someone can do something like this to someone they love,” Judge Krichbaum said. “I think one thing we all can conclude is that you are likely to do this again.”

After those words, the judge told Sylvester he would be spending 16 years in prison. The maximum time permitted under law for the crimes is 18 years.

Sylvester, however, will get credit for the 216 days he spent in the county jail awaiting disposition of his case.

Judge Krichbaum noted that under the law there is no three-year mandatory sentence for the weapon used in this case as there is with the use of a gun. He said that needs to change.

“With all the laws our Legislature throws at us ... we ought to have a law to address this type of situation,” he said.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.