Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III announced that 33 year old Awet Gebreyesus was sentenced to 18 years in prison after having pleaded guilty, as charged, to Attempted Murder in the Second Degree before Supreme Court Justice Deborah A. Haendiges. This is the highest charge for which the defendant could have been convicted had he gone to trial.
Gebreyesus, a purported refugee from Eritrea, was under a court mandate to exchange his young son for visitation at the Wegmans store on Amherst Street in Black Rock. This arrangement was made because the defendant had a history of threatening his wife.
On January 14, 2012, after exchanging the child, Gebreyesus attempted to kill the victim by repeatedly stabbing her. One of the knife thrusts punctured the victim’s skull and partially severed an artery in her brain, causing her to be hospitalized for approximately two weeks. The couple’s child witnessed the attack, but was not physically harmed. DA Sedita praised the actions of the civilians who prevented the victim’s murder, stating: “Because of their bravery, the victim survived the defendant’s vicious attack.”
Although initially claiming that he was not criminally responsible as the result of a traumatic brain injury, Gebreyesus admitted to stabbing his wife with the intent to kill her. Supreme Court Justice Deborah A. Haendiges issued an Order of Protection prohibiting Gebreyesus from any contact with his wife and child until 2038. Gebreyesus will also likely be deported following his sentence.