Man to serve 16 years in attack on wife

YOUNGSTOWN – While the lawyer for a Boardman man being sentenced for an attack on his wife said Wednesday he was really two different people, the judge also said he had two things to balance.

Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge R. Scott Krichbaum said what troubled him was John Sylvester had already served nine years for trying to kill a former girlfriend, and now he was being sentenced for almost the same crime.

”And part of what I’m committed to, without a doubt, is to make sure it never happens again,” Krichbaum said before sentencing Sylvester to 16 years in prison.

Sylvester, 37, of Jaguar Drive, pleaded guilty in December to a count of attempted murder, two counts of felonious assault, kidnapping and a misdemeanor count of endangering children for a June 3 attack in his home.

The couple were separated but were planning to together take their son to a Sesame Street show at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown the day of the altercation. Sylvester cut Kelly M. Sylvester, 30, of Howland, in the neck, shoulder and on both hands and cut their 2-year-old son’s foot.

He then drove away and threatened to jump off the Market Street bridge in Youngstown before he was talked down by police.

His previous conviction was attempted murder for shooting a former girlfriend while he was in college.

Sylvester addressed the court in tears Wednesday, taking responsibility for his actions.

”What I did was unthinkable and unexcusable,” Sylvester said. ”I regret this from the bottom of my heart. I would die for Kelly and my son before I hurt them.”

Kelly Sylvester told the judge of the attack, saying her son was covered in her blood as she held him. She said her son is afraid of his father and was afraid of her when she returned from the hospital covered in stitches and cuts as her husband sobbed.

”Words cannot describe the pain and hardship I’ve had to deal with since that day,” Kelly Sylvester said. ”John didn’t care enough for his family to make decisions that would affect him for a long time.”

Sylvester’s attorney, Sam Amendolara, said three different experts have determined his client has a form of mental illness, although he did not use that as an excuse. Despite past problems with alcohol, Sylvester had never been in trouble other than his one previous conviction, sought treatment on his own and held down a steady job at a restaurant and worked his way up from bartender to general manager.

”It’s like a tale of two different people,” Amendolara said.

Sylvester was previously diagnosed as bipolar, according to his attorney.

Sylvester’s father, mother and sister also spoke tearfully before the judge, apologizing to Kelly Sylvester and saying they hope John Sylvester gets help for his mental illness while in prison.

Krichbaum said that while he agreed there were some mental health issues, he added he was dumbfounded that someone who served prison time for the same crime would commit it again. He said the crimes were ”abhorrent.”