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Posted at 03:02 PM ET, 04/17/2012

Baltimore man gets 26-year sentence in stabbing death of Elaine Coleman

A D.C. restaurant worker who fatally stabbed his girlfriend 41 times in December was sentenced Tuesday to 26 years in prison.

John W. Smith Jr., 47, of Baltimore pleaded guilty Jan. 18 to a second-degree murder charge in the Dec. 2 death of Elaine Coleman, 47. He faced up to a 40-year sentence.

Police found Coleman fatally stabbed Dec. 4 in the bedroom of her home in the 500 block of 23rd Place NE. She had apparently been dead in the Kingman Park rowhouse for two days. Coleman had been stabbed on her face, neck and chest, along with defensive wounds on her hands and wrists. The stab wounds around her neck had been so vicious that her spinal cord had been severed and she was nearly decapitated, according to police.

Smith was arrested Jan. 3. The medical examiner determined that Coleman’s wounds could have been caused by a pair of scissors — a tool Smith had used to fatally stab a man during a 2005 fight in Baltimore. Smith pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case, ultimately serving five years of an eight-year sentence. He was released early for good behavior.

Smith and Coleman had an often-volatile relationship, and Smith mentioned wanting to kill Coleman, according to a police affidavit.

When Smith pleaded guilty in D.C. Superior Court, he told Judge Robert E. Morin “I’m pleading guilty ’cause I am guilty.” Smith admitted that between Dec. 2 and 3, he was with Coleman and stabbed her “numerous times.” In exchange for Smith’s plea, the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office did not pursue additional charges in the case.

Coleman’s daughter, 24-year-old Adell Coleman, told The Post at the time of Smith’s plea that she hoped Smith would receive the maximum sentence. “I have faith in our judicial system now that they see he has been given so many opportunities to hurt people,” she said at the time.

By Jimm Phillips  |  03:02 PM ET, 04/17/2012

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