Friends of Phoenicia couple shocked by murder charge

Verraine and Asia (Facebook)

Verraine and Asia (Facebook)

Solane H. Verraine, 62, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, John W. Owings Jr., 65, known locally as musician Johnny Asia, at their home in Phoenicia. On November 19 at approximately 7:15 p.m., members of the Shandaken Police Department responded to a call from Verraine reporting a death at 46 Route 214. Shandaken police requested the assistance of Ulster County Sheriff’s Office detectives after determining that the death was suspicious.

Verraine was taken to the Ulster County Law Enforcement Center for questioning. According to a report from the sheriff’s office, “Further investigation revealed that the defendant poisoned the victim with a combination of alcoholic beverages and prescription drugs.” Verraine is being held without bail in the Ulster County Jail.

On November 22, she appeared before Justice Michael Miranda at the Shandaken town court. Her slim figure was clothed in an orange jumpsuit with orange rubber clogs, and her wrists and ankles were shackled. Four of her friends were present, and one called out to her from the front row, “We’re here to support you. We love you.”

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On the advice of Verraine’s attorney, Kevin Harp, she waived the right to a preliminary hearing in order to allow him time to prepare a defense, and the case was rescheduled for January 19 at 3:30 p.m. at the Shandaken court. The location of the proceedings may change as a result of discussions among lawyers and judges. District Attorney Holley Carnright said he expects the case to go to a grand jury and confirmed that Verraine has no past criminal record.

Shocked friends

Friends of the couple were stunned by Asia’s death and Verraine’s arrest. “I’m beyond shock,” said Kimberly Wendt of Woodstock, formerly a Phoenicia resident. “There’s nothing malicious about her spirit and heart. The energy and the love and the growth in love they exhibited to us consistently were true to a heart of love and not malice.”

According to Wendt, Asia, who had been ill for several years with Lyme disease and other chronic conditions, had been “giving up hope in the past week or two. She was afraid for him and asked for all of our prayers in helping him to pass into the light.” At 5:03 on the evening of Asia’s death, Verraine posted on Facebook, “Please light a candle for Johnny that he pass into the light. Thank-you. with all my heart.”

Wendt added, “The only thing plausible I can imagine is if he had the wish to stop suffering, he did something of his own accord, and if she was in the house when it happened, that was her only fault.”

Pamela Twining of Woodstock stated, “For several days she had said he was ‘very sick’ and we all responded with love, but never thought it was deathly! I don’t think she’d do anything to hurt him; they were so in love! I truly can’t see her hurting him.”

Verraine’s friend and neighbor Karin Wolf agreed, “She is a sweet person. I don’t believe she intentionally killed someone.”

Friends on Facebook mentioned often seeing the couple walking down the street in Phoenicia, arm in arm.

Phoenicia resident Marilyn Manning described Asia as “an amazing guitarist.” She has known him for 20 years and at one point hired him to paint her house. “He was very health-conscious,” she added. “He took supplements, and he used to walk for miles and miles.”

There are 5 comments

  1. Anne Carlton

    I think that the date she called the police was November 18, (Friday) as in your previous report. The police confirmed by phone that the incident occurred on Friday and she was already arraigned on Saturday November 19.

  2. Jackson

    She posted that he’s going to “pass into the light” then cops find him dead from an OD & booze ? If he wanted out im sure he would not have left her with a murder rap. No..my guess is she decided it was time for him to go ! … suffering or not it’s still murder ! The guy was still walking the earth ! Guess men with medical problems should stop complaining to their wives !

  3. concerned friend

    jackson, first of all, i only ever heard johnny speak of solane with the sweetest, most grateful demeanor, for her companionship, her love and care… u can not pretend to know that it is her fault that johnny is gone. we r all very sad johnny is gone… i’m sure solane is heartbroken. we really don’t know how johnny ended up drinking and taking his medicine… but that is not something to automatically blame solane for, just cuz she is here n he isn’t anymore, n she was the person who lived with him, n was last with him… that doesn’t make her a murderer… johnny was suffering with being very sick… perhaps he took his medicine and drank his drink himself… perhaps it was all just a mistake… we don’t know that she is responsible for his death… why is she being treated as tho she is responsible for everything? was he not at all responsible for himself?! personally, i have not yet heard enough evidence at all what so ever, as to why they arrested her. all i ever knew about them, was how loving, sweet, affectionate, respectful they were towards one another… they seemed very in love, n they seemed like dear friends. it is very hard if not impossible for me to imagine her ‘murdering’ him… just as impossible as it would have been for me to imagine it had things been the other way around… tho i did know him longer than i knew her… but still… it is incomprehensible to me… so in-congruent with what i have experienced of this couple. ‘murder???!!!’ i m wondering if they r trying to fill beds over at this local jail… ??? is there any kind of racket going on?! re: why on earth did they arrest solane and charge this grieving, heartbroken woman with ‘murder?’ i can only imagine, if she is innocent, how insanely traumatic n stressful her dear loss of her love of her life has been, n right just as that happened, she was alone, n vulnerable… n seemed to be seized upon… of course, if she is not innocent, i m all for the truth, n due consequences, no matter how painful it may or may not be… but if she is innocent, which is my leaning inclination, n yes, my hope… then WTF???!!! /// what was so suspicious that they felt they have grounds to arrest solane and lock her up as they have??? on what lawful grounds?!

  4. concerned friend

    also, perhaps johnny may have passed due to him being sick, even had he not had any drink nor medicine… or had he had his medicine but not combined drink… in other words… we don’t know why johnny passed yet, do we? obv it was his time, or he would still b with us… tho it seems too abrupt, n we all wish he could still b here, n that we’d get to see him again soon, n hear his music… etc… he was a lovely person, and wonderful musician. anyway, i m aware that he was sick, and that the reports say he had his medicine, and he drank, which perhaps it sounds like maybe he was not supposed to combine his medicine with alcohol? i dunno… i dunno what his medicine was… all i m saying is, not that it def wasn’t anything to do with that… but we don’t really know yet, do we? i mean, i don’t… for all we know, he would have passed on no matter what at that time, regardless of any circumstances like whether he swooshed down his medicine with alcohol that night or not… and yes, sometimes that sort of thing can b bad, n can cause ill-fatal effects depending… i m not saying it def had nothing to do with it… n maybe it was the cause… btu also, maybe it wasn’t… maybe it had nothing to do with it… maybe one way or another, that was his time to go… where is the autopsy??!! where is solane’s testimony? perhaps there has been a sorrowfully consequential mistake.

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