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Published on March 8th, 2013 | by Daniel Perlman


Port Wentworth man pleads guilty in 2011 stabbing death

An apologetic Kenneth Edward Sanders on Tuesday pleaded guilty to murder in exchange for a life prison sentence with the possibility of parole for stabbing his wife to death in 2011 in front of her three small children.

The plea before Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy R. Walmsley came as a jury was poised to be selected for trial.

Sanders, 48, was charged with stabbing Nancy Bruin Sanders repeatedly at their Port Wentworth home on July 23, 2011, as her daughters, ages 4, 7 and 9, looked on.

The victim, 28, had bought ice cream and cake to celebrate Sanders’ birthday when he assaulted her. The children fled to neighbors after the attack, asking if the neighbors could help their mother.

Police found Sanders next to the victim’s body, a knife to his throat and threatening to kill himself. Officers had to use a Taser twice on Sanders before arresting him, said Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Parker Guyer.

“I’ve been through hell, and I put a family through hell,” Sanders told the victim’s family who were seated in the courtroom. “I’m so sorry it ended this way. It wasn’t supposed to.”

Sanders, who has appeared in court in a wheelchair, stood to address the family and Walmsley after meeting earlier with his attorney, Assistant Public Defender John Rodman, and announcing his decision to take the plea offer.

Sanders earlier complained about his representation by the public defender’s office but said Tuesday he was satisfied with Rodman.

Guyer said the state’s offer was a guilty plea to a malice-murder charge in return for a sentence of life with the possibility of parole. She then dismissed the remaining counts including felony murder, cruelty to children and possession of a knife in commission of a crime.

If Sanders had been convicted on all counts, he would have faced a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole plus 65 years, Guyer told the judge.

“Madame prosecutor, I will be accepting your offer,” Sanders said. “Once again …I am sorry.”

Asked by Walmsley how he was pleading, Sanders responded, “Guilty.”

When Walmsley asked the follow-up question of whether Sanders was in fact guilty, the defendant hesitated before responding, “Yes, sir.”

The victim’s sister, Areatha Laurel, speaking for the family, told Walmsley the victim was the baby of eight siblings and her death had been hard on her children.

“It’s hard every day,” she said.

If Sanders knew the effect on the children, she said, he “would have died that night.”

“These children are destroyed by what happened,” she said. “For him to have taken her life, it was just sad.”

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Source: Savannah Now “Port Wentworth man pleads guilty in 2011 stabbing death,” March 5, 2013.

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