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Jury convicts Pasco man of beating wife with hatchet

NEW PORT RICHEY — Antoinette Stuckey awoke to her daughter's screams and a sharp pain in her head.

There was a struggle in the dark, and when the bedroom light came on, her husband was standing there, a crazed look on his face, swinging a hatchet.

"He kept saying, 'Die, bitch. Die, bitch,' " Mrs. Stuckey testified Tuesday.

Daniel Lee Stuckey, 43, was charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery in the June 8, 2009, attack.

A six-member jury deliberated 90 minutes Tuesday evening before returning a split verdict: not guilty of attempted murder but guilty of aggravated battery.

He faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced.

Jurors also heard from the Stuckeys' two daughters who described their terror that night.

Mrs. Stuckey said she and her husband of almost 20 years were living with their girls on Old Orchard Lane in Port Richey, but their marriage was long over. Stuckey, a Navy veteran, was staying in his younger daughter's bedroom until he found his own place.

That day, Mrs. Stuckey said she worked a double shift — 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. — at her job as a certified nursing assistant in Clearwater. Midway through, she got a call from her husband. He was agitated, she said.

"Daniel said, he asked me, 'Did you tell Danielle to call 911 on me?' " she testified.

She said she had told their daughter to call the authorities if her father became violent.

"And I said, 'Yeah, I told you not to touch her when you're drinking,' " Mrs. Stuckey testified. "Apparently (they) had gotten into an argument and he told Danielle he would hit her upside the head."

She cut the phone call short.

Late that night, when she got home from work, she said her daughters were sleeping in her bed. She could tell her husband had been drinking. He tried to speak to her, but she ignored him.

She showered and quickly went to bed, too.

"Do you remember being woken up?" Assistant State Attorney Jim Goodnow asked.

"I can remember hearing my daughter screaming," Mrs. Stuckey said. "It was one of them screams that you know that your child needs you."

Dominique, 17, cried as she described trying to protect her mother and sister as her father went on a rampage. She called 911.

"I was afraid for my mom's life," Dominique testified. "She was bleeding everywhere."

Danielle, 10, said she was behind her mother, screaming and imploring her father to stop.

Antoinette Stuckey said her husband finally relented, saying something like, "you better be glad my child is here."

Stuckey took the stand also, saying the conflict with his wife that day was over differences in their parenting styles.

Stuckey said he was cleaning carpets that day and was using the hatchet to lift and move furniture. He had it in his hand when he went into her bedroom. They argued, and he dropped the hatchet on her lap, possibly cutting her arm.

"If it hit her in the arm, I take the blame for that," he said.

But he insisted he didn't swing for her head.

"I never once swung that ax at Antoinette," he said.

Wounds on Mrs. Stuckey's head and arm required multiple stitches.

"How was he swinging (the hatchet)?" Goodnow asked her.

"Like he was trying to kill me," Mrs. Stuckey said.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Jury convicts Pasco man of beating wife with hatchet 03/02/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 3, 2010 3:44pm]
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