Citing the victim impact statements and those made by the defendant, Essex County Judge Richard Meyer was ready to throw out the plea agreement reached between Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague and John King, who pled guilty to strangling his wife, Meredith, on Sept. 25, 2011.
However, saying that it was in the best interest of the King children, Meyer reluctantly agreed to the plea agreement of a 10-year state prison incarceration, followed by a five-year supervised probation and an eight-year order of protection for Meredith.
John King pled guilty to the charge of First Degree strangulation, a Class C violent felony, Dec. 10, 2012, a charge which could have landed him in jail for up to 25 years.
During sentencing Feb. 21, Meredith King finally spoke about what happened to her on the morning of Sept. 25, 2011, saying, “despite the emotional trauma that it would have caused for me and my children, I can’t help but feel that I did not have my day in court.”
“I think about all of the evidence that the court, along with the unconvinced King family, were not able to see.”
King said that her husband, knowing that she was ready to seek a divorce, attacked her, punching her in the face and then strangling her until she lost consciousness and control of her bodily functions.
“He looked me straight in the eyes as he strangled me,” she said. “When I started to scream, he moved his thumbs over my vocal chords. No words can describe that feeling I had.”
He then proceeded to kick and further attack her before dragging her to a corner of the room and left her as he took their daughter out of the house to her parents.
She said that along the way, John King saw her mother, passing the child off to her and telling her not to ask any questions or go to the home he shared with Meredith.
“His own words, until death do us part, almost rang true,” she said. “When the sheriff’s deputies arrived and knocked on my door I still could not move. I was terrified that they could not find me.”
Meredith said that her mother described her as a “broken and shattered woman,” after the ordeal.
“I was stripped of my dignity that day,” she said. “To say that I was humiliated would be an incredible understatement.”
She also spoke about the hardship the attack caused on her son and daughter.
“There is no handbook to explain to your children that their father almost killed their mother,” she said. “I could not explain to my daughter that if her daddy showed up at the door, she had to call 911. I am the victim of a heinous crime, but more important, my children are victims as well. John has ruined a piece of their childhood. I dread the day that he is released not only for myself, but for my children.”
Sprague then addressed the court and John King.
“John King is dangerous,” Sprague said. “He comes up with great stories and exaggerations. He is a danger to his wife and to his children and he shows no remorse for what he has done to Meredith and the children. He does not care for anyone but himself.”
Sprague talked about the experts and doctors the state was ready to bring into a trial to present the case against John King, then adding that they also had a significant witnesses that would have been called.
“I hope the defendant lives with this for the rest of his life, that his little daughter saw the whole thing happen,” Sprague said. “She saw him hit her mother, strangle her mother and then toss her into a corner.”
Sprague also spoke to the family of John King, who she implied had written letters of support for him and against Meredith.
“I can’t believe very educated people who throw around their degrees can get snowballed like this,” she said. “John King entered this plea because he knew he could not sweet-talk his way out of the evidence. I wish the family would have seen the evidence because it could not be smooth-talked or sugar-coated.”
After Meredith and Sprague spoke, Judge Meyer stated his displeasure with he plea agreement.
“After reading the pre-sentencing report, I have great reservations about this agreement,” Meyer said. “I really have significant doubts as to whether 10 years is appropriate and I need to know if the victim is still in agreement with this. I am concerned, and this case might be better off going to trial.”
Following a long recess where Sprague and Meredith King consulted, the two returned to the courtroom.
Sprague said King did have reservations about the plea, but, “the reality of it is that she does not want to put her kids through anymore of this.”
Meyer then turned his attention to John King, asking if he had a statement. John, who did not look at his wife or Sprague during their talks, rose slowly and said, “No, your honor.”
Meyer asked King to remain standing as he spoke about the case.
“I have no reason to doubt anything that your wife has said,” Meyer said. “I am very concerned about these children and your wife. No person should be subjected to the things you did on the morning in question. They are barbaric and inhumane. I have great reservations about this sentence being appropriate for you. I am reluctantly going to go along with the conditions of sentencing, because your family has to continue to re-live the tragedy of that day, and I do not want to put your children through that again.”
John King was then remanded to a sheriff’s deputy for transport to a state prison.