On December 15, Solane Verraine of Phoenicia accepted the plea deal offered by Ulster County Judge Don Williams, pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter for helping her husband, John Owings, Jr., a.k.a. Johnny Asia, to commit suicide on November 19, 2016. Williams said he plans to sentence her to two to six years in state prison.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Michael Kavanagh had requested only time served as a sentence, since Verraine has been held without bail at the Ulster County jail for over a year. By the time of her sentencing, scheduled for February 21 at 9:30 a.m., she will have been in jail for 15 months, and Kavanagh said that time will be deducted from her sentence. He also said she will be eligible for release in less than a year.
Verraine, 63, was originally accused of second-degree murder but was indicted by a grand jury for assisting with a suicide, thereby shifting the charge to manslaughter, a non-violent felony. Her husband had been ill for many years and suffering from severe back pain. Police said Verraine had admitted at the time of the arrest that she had saved and crushed over 90 pain pills and other prescription medications for Asia to consume with alcohol, resulting in his death.
Kavanagh said the autopsy showed Asia had been drinking heavily for some time and was “slowly killing himself anyway. The medical examiner said he had advanced cirrhosis of the liver and was in dire condition. He did have some good days, though,” when Asia was seen walking on the street with Verraine.
Judge Williams made it clear that if Verraine chose to go to trial, she could receive as little as probation or as much as five to 15 years in prison if found guilty. He also referred several times to reports that she had had mental health issues in the past and asked her attorneys to verify that she appeared currently to be mentally competent. They confirmed that they did not feel a defense of mental illness would be successful in a trial. Throughout the proceedings, Verraine answered the judge’s questions in a firm, clear voice, stating that she understood all the conditions he was presenting.
Williams cautioned her that she was waiving the right to a jury trial and the right of appeal if she felt any of the professionals involved in the case had treated her unfairly. At last he asked her if she had “intentionally caused or aided another person, John Owings, Jr., to commit suicide.”
“I aided him,” Verraine replied.
Kavanagh said no restitution is sought, since his staff were unable to locate any immediate family of the deceased. An ex-girlfriend declined to have any involvement.