Northampton man sentenced to 3 years in prison for assault, suffocation 

  • Kevin J. McDonald, left, pleaded guilty in Hampshire Superior Court for the third time Friday to charges of assault and battery on an elderly person, suffocation, and assault with a dangerous weapon. He was sentenced to three years in state prison and five years of probation with several conditions. ALEXA CHRYSSOVERGIS/GAZETTE STAFF

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Published: 8/12/2016 7:33:23 PM

NORTHAMPTON – Judge Richard Carey accepted a Northampton man’s guilty plea to suffocating his mother and assaulting another man with a knife after both Carey and another judge had previously refused to agree to the deal.

Kevin J. McDonald, 44, pleaded guilty for the third time Friday to charges of assault and battery on an elderly person, suffocation, and assault with a dangerous weapon. He was sentenced to three years in state prison and five years of probation with several conditions.

“Are you pleading guilty because you are guilty and for no other reason?” Carey asked the defendant.

“I am,” McDonald replied.

The charges included threatening to kill his mother in May 2015, as he placed his hands over her nose and mouth to stop her breathing. The dispute started over the use of her cellphone.

He also admitted to demanding money while holding a knife up to the throat of a 59-year-old man at the Northampton Lodging House on Pleasant Street in April 2015.

Due to McDonald’s extensive criminal record, which includes assault charges and jail sentences dating back 25 years, Carey previously rejected a plea deal that called for three years in prison and two years of probation.

“There’s no question that he (McDonald) has a very significant criminal record,” McDonald’s defense attorney, Rachel Weber said.

Three years in prison and two years of probation was initially the deal that Weber and Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jennifer Suhl put forward to the first judge, John Ferrara, who rejected the plea in June. Ferrara was not willing to accept the deal and instead suggested five years of probation, at which point McDonald backed out of the plea.

But after trying the same plea deal last month with Judge Carey again to no avail, McDonald accepted the longer probationary period.

Weber said McDonald’s mother suffers from mental health issues and that it would not be in her best interest, either, to take the issue to trial and have to testify against her son.

She also said that McDonald’s situation with his mother was “part of a very long and sad history,” and that it would be best for McDonald to be able to take responsibility, be suitably punished and shape up his life.

“He knows that if he slips up, he’s looking at going back to prison,” Weber said.

Throughout the past 443 days he’s already spent in jail, Weber said, McDonald has forged a stronger and more meaningful relationship with his daughter.

McDonald sniffled heavily at this, seemingly in acknowledgment of his attorney’s statements.

After Carey accepted the plea, Weber also asked the judge to include a recommendation letter, which would help in allowing McDonald to be taken back to the county jail after a year – and for the judge to waive probation fees. Carey agreed to both requests.

“Good luck, Mr. McDonald,” Carey said, as McDonald shuffled out in his shackles.


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