Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wellsville, OH: Wellsville Man Reaches Plea Deal in Wife's Death

Last Update: 5:57 pm

The family of a murdered Wellsville woman say they forgive the man accused of killing her.

That man, Jack (JC) Amato, pleaded guilty to a charge of voluntary manslaughter Thursday in the shooting death of his wife, Tonia, 25, found in her Wellsville home in 2007.

"We have forgave JC from the moment I found out," said Kathy Brundage, Tonia's mother. "We have been forgiven by God for a lot of things we have done, and he deserves no less."

But even though Kathy Brundage and her husband, Rick, forgive Amato, watching their daughter's husband and accused killer stand before a judge was by no means easy.

In July 2007, Tonia Amato was found with a gunshot wound to the head in her Wellsville home. Jack Amato was originally charged with her murder and was set to head to trial next week. Instead, he reached an agreement with the prosecution, and pleaded guilty to the voluntary manslaughter charge with a firearm specification.

While Amato accepted the plea deal, his lawyers said he still maintains he shot his wife in self-defense. They claimed evidence collected at the scene indicated both he and Tonia fired guns the day she died.

"In putting the evidence together to present to the jury, and it's our burden to do that, to prove self-defense, we also prove all the elements of voluntary manslaughter," said defense attorney James Hartford.

The special prosecutor assigned to the case recommended the judge sentence Amato to eight years in prison.

"We are satisfied," said Kathy Brundage. "This will keep JC off the streets for a while and give him some time to get his act together, get some help."

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