CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Carole LaRossa, 50, pleaded guilty Friday to voluntary manslaughter for the 2012 death of her ex-husband, James LaRossa.
She was sentenced to 38-58 months in prison, according to a news release from the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office. Family members say justice wasn't served.
"I think its another classic example," Victim's Friend Glenn Galanos said. "Of our criminal justice system - it steps over the body of the victim to protect the rights of the defendant. It's a shame."
James LaRossa's niece spoke at the sentencing phase and said Carole LaRossa will pay for what she did.
"One day just like all of us," Niece Laura Cox said. "Her time on this earth will come to an end and when that day comes, my Uncle Jimmy will be standing at the Golden Gates next to God as he turns her away."
In April 2012, Carole LaRossa went to her ex-husband's apartment on Dianthus Court in Charlotte to pick up food for James LaRossa's dog, which she had agreed to watch while he played golf the next day with friends.
Carole LaRossa told police that James LaRossa became upset when she told him that he needed to remove the remainder of his personal items from the house they once shared.
She said that he became physically aggressive, sexually assaulted her and poked her breasts with a knife while threatening her.
She reacted by hitting him with a wine glass, causing him to drop the knife. She then picked up the knife and stabbed him twice in the chest.
LaRossa's attorney says there was evidence a struggle happened on the night of the crime.
"Ms LaRosa's injuries from that night," Defense attorney Sonya Pfeiffer said. "Include bumps to the head, bruising, stab wounds to the breasts. Some required stitches - some breast reconstruction."
LaRossa is a breast cancer survivor.
After he fell, she continued to stab him in the back 17 times before calling 911.
She told police she was afraid he would get back up and harm her.
Both the victim and the defendant have a history of substance abuse.
The defendant said her ex-husband was highly intoxicated at the time of the incident.
Unusually, however, the Medical Examiner's Office and the toxicologist cannot pinpoint James LaRossa's blood alcohol content.
They could only conclude that his blood alcohol content was between .02 and .34.
Tests showed Carole LaRossa did not have any alcohol in her blood at the time.
Court records substantiate a history of domestic violence between the couple, and a judge previously found that James LaRossa had assaulted Carole LaRossa.
Despite claims that the victim could not have assaulted someone because he was disabled, evidence discovered in the investigation suggests otherwise concerning his physical abilities.
During the investigation, Carole LaRossa gave police inconsistent statements but always insisted that she acted in self-defense.
At trial, to overcome the defendant's claim of self-defense and prove murder, the State would be required to prove that Carole LaRossa did not act in self-defense.
There are no witnesses to the events other than the defendant, and the physical and scientific evidence do not disprove her version of events, making it impossible to overcome that defense.
The District Attorney's Office thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence in the case and concluded that the most likely outcome of this case at trial would be a conviction of voluntary manslaughter.
The judge said he believed the sentencing was appropriate but did admit balancing the scales of justice is imperfect.