Riverhead couple's quarrel turns fatal
Woman arrested for stabbing beau
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Kianna Coach, 21, is charged with manslaughter in the death of 25-year-old James Wheeler, who managed to stumble outside after the stabbing before collapsing on a patch of lawn. Ms. Coach's baby son was in the apartment at the time of the incident but was unharmed, investigators said.
Shortly after noon, cops and emergency crews found Mr. Wheeler, who lived on Flanders Road in Flanders, lying on the ground behind the apartment building at the River Pointe complex on East Main Street.
"They worked on him furiously," said one neighbor who did not want her name printed. "I thought they were going to break his ribs trying to resuscitate him."
Mr. Wheeler died later at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead.
Detectives quickly zeroed in on Ms. Coach, who during the argument fled to a neighbor's apartment before returning and stabbing Mr. Wheeler in the chest, police said. Investigators would not say where she got the knife.
"Then, [Mr. Wheeler] falls out the back door of the apartment and collapses about 80 feet away," said Detective Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick, commanding officer of the Suffolk Police homicide squad.
Ms. Coach pleaded not guilty to first-degree manslaughter Wednesday in Town Justice Court. At the arraignment, her lawyer, Susan Menu, said she was physically abused by Mr. Wheeler.
The attorney showed Justice Allen Smith bruises on her client's leg and said that she had other bruises on her neck.
Relatives of Mr. Wheeler could not be immediately reached for comment.
After Ms. Coach was led out of the courtroom in a yellow jumpsuit, she could be heard sobbing hysterically.
"Just pray for her," her mother, Carol Jackson, said afterward.
Ms. Jackson said that her daughter was in an "abusive relationship" with Mr. Wheeler for just over three years, but feared she might become homeless with her 13-month-old son if she left him.
Her father, George Trent Sr., said she called him last week saying she was leaving Mr. Wheeler, who was known as "Jim Boy."
"I know she didn't mean to kill him," Mr. Trent said.
Ms. Jackson siad her daughter didn't learn until 4 p.m. Tuesday that Mr. Wheeler died, at which point she collapsed in the police station and had to be taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment.
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