Death penalty is sought in stabbing

Posted: October 19, 2001

Bucks County District Attorney Diane E. Gibbons said yesterday that she would seek the death penalty for a Lower Makefield man accused of stabbing his wife to death in July.

Evidence shows that Joseph Sparacio, 47, inflicted "pain and injury beyond what was necessary to kill" Valerie Sparacio, his wife of 20 years, Gibbons said. Police found the wife's body and two serrated knives in the bedroom of the couple's home on Quincy Drive on July 12. Bloodstained men's pajamas were in a clothes hamper. Sparacio had locked himself in the garage with his car running, police said.

Sparacio is being held without bail in Bucks County prison on a charge of first-degree murder. His 43-year-old wife, who had planned to leave him, kept a record of his alleged abuses, according to court records.

Defense attorney Stanton M. Lacks said he had seen no evidence linking his client to the slaying or establishing a case worthy of the death penalty. He said Gibbons' decision may be based on politics. She is seeking reelection.

"It would be really shameful if this case was being used to enhance one's political campaign," Lacks said.

Gibbons says her decision was based on the evidence.

"Any criminal who is charged would be trying to say the same thing, to get out from under it," she said. "But the evidence at the preliminary hearing and the evidence of the autopsy clearly establish [grounds for] . . . the death penalty."

Alicia A. Caldwell's e-mail address is acaldwell@phillynews.com.

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