OSWEGO, NY – Oswego County Court Judge Walter Hafner has postponed the sentencing of Joyce Malone until next month.
Malone, who was convicted Jan. 24 in the shooting death of her husband, appeared in court today (March 7) with her attorney, James Eby. Several family members and friends all were present.
The defense attorney explained that his client is undergoing treatment for an inoperable cancer.
An interruption in the treatments now, he said, “would be life-threatening.”
Malone, 70, is battling stage four lung cancer.
She is now scheduled to return to court on April 8.
Hafner and Eby traded barbs throughout the proceedings.
The judge read from a pre-sentence report done by the probation department and referred to a letter from Malone’s son, Joseph.
“Everyone in this family knew there was a problem here with Mr. Malone,” Hafner said referring to the emotional and mental abuse he subjected his wife to. “No one says he was a very nice guy. Apparently there were discussions about what to do. They knew he wasn’t going to see a therapist, wasn’t going to be changed in his ways. So, eventually now, I’m told, in the presence of your client, his family members are talking about killing him. That was where the conversation went to because that was the solution that they came up with – kill him.”
“The source of that is a letter from Joseph Malone, the son. It’s absurd to take the ramblings of Mr. Malone about stuff that has nothing to do . . . If that was the case, he would have been called in the course of the trial,” Eby shouted at the court. “It is nothing but a drunken ramble! It is absurd!”
“You want to start yelling at the court, Mr. Eby?” the judge shot back.
If there were “any credible shred of evidence” to support those accusations, Eby said he would assume that the assistant district attorney would have brought it up at trial.
“I take great exception to the court making findings based upon this unsworn, unverified statement of Joseph Malone Jr., which appear to me to be in the form of a drunken rambling!” the defense attorney said.
“This is the fourth time that you’ve yelled at this court, Mr. Eby throughout this trial. I’ll make a note of that. I find Mr. Malone’s rambling, as you call it, very well put together, it’s all typed. It doesn’t appear to be absurd at all,” Hafner replied.
The judge said what is absurd to him is the defense-called psychologist Norman Lesswing never interviewed the sheriff’s investigator who spent much time with Joyce Malone following the shooting and he never talked with the son, either.
“OK, you’ve got 30 days,” Hafner told Eby. “There will be further adjournments. See you April 8 for sentencing; you had better have arranged all of the arrangements you have to make with the Department of Corrections.”
It was a rambling letter that the son had addressed to the probation department, Eby said outside the courtroom.
“A small part of it made reference to some allegation on his part that all of this might have been planned. It’s absurd. He spoke with the (assistant) district attorney, Mr. (Gregory) Oakes, prior to the trial; nothing was ever mentioned about that (the alleged plot),” he said. “It’s just kind of a rambling rant frankly on his part. It’s absurd. Was I surprised (that the judge brought it up)? It’s attached to the report, so if he wanted to comment on it, it was his prerogative to comment on it.”
After the verdict came in, Eby asked his client to get a complete health examination.
In the course of that it was revealed that she has cancer in the lungs, it has moved into the lymph nodes and her brain.
“Basically, it’s inoperable. It’s in stage four and the only available treatments now are radiation and chemotherapy. So, therefore, we asked the court for an adjournment so that she could continue those treatments which have already commenced,” he said. “I understand, from the doctor, that it is life-threatening to discontinue the treatments at this point.”
Since the cancer was detected, Malone has been under the care of a team of doctors, Eby said.
The cancer, doctors said, was “extremely aggressive,” Eby added.
She needs radiation therapy daily for several weeks and chemo therapy for several months, he said.
Could his client die in prison?
“From what I understand of stage four (the most advanced stage), it is not a good diagnosis,” Eby acquiesced.
Malone remains free on a $100,000 bail bond.