Woman pleads in fatal stabbing of boyfriend in Upper Darby
MEDIA COURTHOUSE >> A Johnstown woman sobbed as she recounted the fatal stabbing of her boyfriend with a corkscrew and apologized to his family. Sahdia Hargrove addressed the family of 34-year-old Howard L. West during a plea hearing and sentencing in his death Tuesday.
I m so sorry, said Sahdia Hargrove, through her tears. What I did was not intentional. I still love him and I feel him every day. Hargrove, 30, pleaded guilty before Judge Richard Cappelli to one count of third-degree murder for the May 2016 stabbing death of West in an Upper Darby basement. She was sentenced to 15 to 40 years in a state prison under the negotiated plea deal worked out by Assistant District Attorney Brian Doherty and defense counsel Shawn Page.
West, of Philadelphia, was pronounced dead at 11:59 p.m. May 6 in the emergency room of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Yeadon. Upper Darby police were notified of a man who arrived in the emergency room at 11:46 p.m. with a severe puncture wound and were told the incident may have occurred in Upper Darby. Upper Darby Officer James Friel went to the hospital and spoke with Yeadon Officer Nicholas D Alessandro and a hospital security guard, who indicated West was driven to the hospital by a woman, later identified as Hargrove. Hargrove told police she was with West at a residence in the 7000 block of Clover Lane in Upper Darby that night. She said the two went into the basement where they planned to smoke a blunt and have sex, according to an affidavit of probable cause for her arrest.
As Hargrove was rolling the blunt, she said she heard West say, Ouch, and discovered he had rolled over onto the multi-tool corkscrew. Hargrove allegedly told police she tried to stem the blood flow with her fingers after West injured himself. The bleeding stopped and he laid back down, she said, but he soon complained that he could not breathe and his eyes looked as if he was having a seizure, according to the affidavit. Officer Ryan Wiseley visited the residence and found the multi-tool on the bed along with a blunt cigar and a small amount of marijuana. The tool was in the closed position and appeared to have blood on the blade of the knife, according to the affidavit. Hargrove was arrested after Delaware County Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Bennett Preston determined West s death was a homicide due to the trajectory of the corkscrew, which came at a backwards, rightwards, and downwards angle at a depth of 2 to 3 inches, according to the autopsy report.
Dr. Preston stated it would take a substantial amount of force to penetrate the sternum of the victim s body, and that there is a 0-percent chance that it occurred the way that Hargrove explains it did, according to the affidavit.
The stabbing instrument fatally pierced West s left lung, sternum and right ventricle of his heart, according to Preston s findings. The report also noted West had fresh slash wounds to his arms and abdomen. A jury pool had been assembled and the case was ready to go to trial when Hargrove instead tendered her plea. Her mother and several of West s family members were also present Tuesday.
It didn t have to happen, said one of West s aunts. It was unnecessary. He couldn t have done anything for it to happen, he was too nice. Others also described West, a father of two, as a gentle giant who was very kind and always willing to lend a hand. His father called the killing senseless.
I never thought that I would bury one of my children and still today it does not seem real, said West s mother in a letter read for the court. My heart will never heal. My life will never be the same.
In addition to prison time, Hargrove will have to pay $6,512 to the victim s compensation assistance fund. She is not eligible for early release.