A 55-year-old Westerville man showed no emotion Nov. 27 as he apologized for fatally stabbing his wife of nearly 30 years after she filed for divorce.
"I'm truly sorry for what transpired that evening," James A. Gentile said calmly in a Franklin County courtroom. "That was not me. I don't know what possessed me to commit such a criminal act."
His comments didn't sit well with Common Pleas Judge Kimberly Cocroft as she prepared to impose his sentence for the June 6 death of Dana Gentile, 55, who was attacked at the couple's house in the 1100 block of Carousel Court.
"You say you don't know who this was who did this," Cocroft said. "I do. It was you. It was you."
She sentenced him to life in prison with no chance of parole for 20 years after he pleaded guilty to aggravated murder. Prosecuting and defense attorneys recommended the sentence as part of a plea agreement.
It was the second time in a week that a man was sentenced in Franklin County for killing his wife after a divorce filing.
"It seems that we are living in a time now where there are acts of violence against women by men who believe that they have the right and the power to control what women can and cannot do, and you fall squarely into that category," Cocroft told Gentile.
One of the victim's three brothers, Stephen Bosway, told the judge the family thinks the crime "warrants a more severe sentence," but agreed with the plea deal because "a prolonged public trial is not what the family wanted."
The couple had three children, all grown and living out of state. None attended the hearing. Dana Gentile had filed for divorce about three weeks before the attack, assistant prosecutor William Walton said.
Westerville police were called by a neighbor who said James Gentile, seated in a vehicle outside the residence, told him he had just killed his wife. Officers found the victim on the living room floor with three stab wounds, including one in her chest that had punctured her aorta, Walton said. The body was under a blanket and was naked from the waist down.
Genoa Township police spotted James Gentile's black Honda Accord a short time later, pulled the car over and arrested him.
In addition to aggravated murder, James Gentile was indicted on a charge of rape, but that charge was dismissed as part of the plea deal.
The judge called Gentile's actions "evil incarnate ... You failed miserably as a man, as a husband and as a father."