A New York man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in December midway through his murder trial in the stabbing death of a Westbrook man was sentenced Friday to serve 13 years in prison.

Tareek Hendricks, 32, had flip-flopped on the fourth day of his trial on Dec. 5 before finally pleading guilty to fatally stabbing Robert Stubbs and injuring his wife, Melissa Stubbs, at their home in 2011.

Had Hendricks gone through with the jury trial and been convicted of murder, he would have faced a minimum of 25 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison. Under terms of a plea deal, Hendricks faced a maximum penalty of 17 years on the manslaughter charge and a maximum of 10 years on an aggravated assault charge for stabbing Melissa Stubbs.

“There was a risk in this case that Mr. Hendricks could have been convicted of murder,” Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren said. “On the other hand, he could have been acquitted of murder and of all charges.”

Warren said he viewed the case, based on the manslaughter charge, as a sort of self-defense case because Robert Stubbs had attacked Hendricks first using a baseball bat before Hendricks fought back with a knife, stabbing Stubbs at least nine times.

“What I’m looking at is recklessness in the use of self-defense,” the judge said, explaining the sentence he imposed. “Mr. Hendricks was reckless in continuing to stab Mr. Stubbs when Mr. Stubbs was no longer a threat.”

Warren sentenced Hendricks to a total of 16 years, with three years suspended, and four years of probation

The prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese, argued that Hendricks should have been sentenced to the full 17 years with no probation. She said both Robert and Melissa Stubbs told Hendricks to leave their house before the fight started at their home at 73 Central St. in Westbrook.

The fight began in the kitchen when Robert Stubbs, who was high on crack cocaine, escalated an argument by hitting Hendricks, his drug dealer, with a baseball bat. Details about what happened and whether the Stubbses told Hendricks to leave their home before the fight were unclear from witness testimony.

Hendricks was accused of stabbing Melissa Stubbs after she intervened and struck Hendricks repeatedly with a kitchen chair.

Tina Seavey, who was Robert Stubbs’ ex-wife and the mother of his son, asked at the sentencing hearing that the judge impose the maximum 17-year sentence allowed under the plea deal.

“Seventeen years may seem like a long time, but it’s not,” Seavey told the judge. She then spoke to Hendricks: “You are an evil person. My son has been making some bad choices now that Bobby is gone.”

But the judge accepted a recommendation from Probation Officer Marc Montminy that Hendricks would benefit from supervision after his release from prison. The judge said he believes Hendricks isn’t beyond redemption, although he called Hendricks’ years of drug dealing “reprehensible behavior.”

Hendricks’ attorneys, Jon Gale and Amy Fairfield, had recommended a 15-year sentence, with only four years in prison and the remainder suspended during a four-year probation term.

Gale called a witness to the fight between Stubbs and Hendricks to counter Marchese’s claim that the Stubbses had asked Hendricks to leave before the fight.

Jessica Berry, Hendricks’ friend, said Friday that she never heard anyone tell Hendricks to leave before Robert Stubbs swung at him with a baseball bat.

“I watched Bobby attack Tareek with a bat. It was so sudden, I didn’t expect it to happen,” Berry said. “I believe this to be straight-up self-defense. I was very disappointed to hear that Tareek pled.”

Berry had been scheduled to testify at Hendricks’ trial as the next witness on the day he decided to accept the plea offer. Her testimony had not been heard in court before the sentencing hearing.

Hendricks, dressed in an orange jail uniform, also spoke, turning first to Robert Stubbs’ family members in the audience before turning to the judge.

“As a man who understands his wrong, I first want to apologize to Melissa Stubbs and her entire family,” Hendricks said. “Me and Bobby were never enemies. This was a spontaneous accident that spun out of control. God knows I never planned on hurting anyone or to take a life. I was just hanging out there with Bobby Stubbs.”

Hendricks said he struggles to sleep on some nights because images from the night he killed Stubbs still replay in his mind.

“I will forever regret the night of April 21, 2011,” Hendricks said. “If I could turn back the hands of time, I would never have been in that house that night.”

Teenessha Walls, who was Hendricks’ girlfriend in 2011 and is the mother of his children, told the judge that he came to her on the night of the stabbing and told her repeatedly that he “didn’t mean to do it.”

“I had been with Tareek seven years on that night, and I had never seen Tareek cry,” Walls said.

Hendricks will get credit for the time he has remained in jail since his arrest in Syracuse, New York, on July 11, 2012. He has remained in custody since then.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

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