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City woman pleads guilty to fatal stabbing

A city woman who fatally stabbed a man on New Year’s Day 2019 was sentenced to 12.5 to 25 years in state prison after she pled guilty to third degree homicide Thursday.

Monica Latoya Burns, 30, said she stabbed Ryan Jones during a fight where about seven people were assaulting him in a Timberland Apartment bathroom.

“I grabbed the knife from the kitchen to try to protect my brother,” she said, though later admitted she did not need to stab Jones to keep her brother safe.

Burns said her knife went into Jones chest, but could not remember how he was positioned in the lavatory at that time.

“I was real intoxicated,” she said.

Ryan Jones fled the apartment and was found dead at about 6:30 a.m. behind the Williamsport Bureau of Fire headquarters at Lycoming and Walnut streets after fleeing the Timberland Apartment complex.

A medical examiner completed an autopsy and determined that the cause of death was criminal homicide by a knife wound to the left side of his chest, though his body was also found with a large amount of trauma to his head and upper torso.

Burns fled for eight days to Philadelphia before U.S. Marshalls apprehended her.

Ryan Gardner, Lycoming County district attorney, said he consulted with the victim’s family and determined the plea deal with respect to the strength of the case and weight of the charges.

“This case was problematic to say the least,” he said. “Unfortunately this case is representative of what happens when other witnesses are reluctant to come forward.”

Jones was a 2008 graduate of South Williamsport High School and had recently joined the United States National Guard.

Family members of Jones addressed Burns in court, where they shared their grief and anger at the crime.

“I always wanted a boy,” said his father. “He was the greatest gift that I have had… and you took him from me.”

Jones had planned to raise a family that was also taken from him.

Through thoughtless violence, Burns had hollowed out the family with grief, said Jones’ grandmother.

Jones’ sister said she her children lost the opportunity to grow with their uncle

Burns said she regretted her decisions.

“I just want to say, I’m really sorry — I’m truly sorry,” she said.

Judge Marc F. Lovecchio, said that although Burns’ case was a cause of her own actions, it was also emblematic of the violence in society.

“We don’t even consider the consequences, for some reason we’ve gone so far beyond that,” he said. “(Jones) had a lot going for him but he died behind the firestation, alone and cold.”

“It’s the kind of criminality that tears at the fabric of the community,” he added.

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