“Blood ran down my arm like a water fountain,” Linda Clark told a district judge in describing being stabbed in the neck in November.

Clark testified Wednesday before District Judge Dennis M. Songer, Sharon, in the preliminary hearing of Justin M. DelFratte, 30, of Sharpsville. He faces charges of attempted homicide and aggravated assault in the Nov. 10 stabbing of Clark in the emergency room of Sharon Regional Health System, where she worked as a greeter.

Clark, who also worked as an artist, said three arteries were cut and a nerve was severed in the left side of her neck. Doctors say it could be two years before she is able to move her left arm again, she said.

Clark took the stand with the assistance of a walker and outlined the events of that afternoon.

According to the Hubbard woman, DelFratte had signed in and saw the triage doctor. She remembered he was there for “something with pain.”

After being released, he used the public phone a “couple times,” she said.

She testified that the first time he used the phone, he said he was done and needed a ride. At the end of the call he slammed down the phone, leading her to believe he was upset.

After the phone calls, he stayed in the waiting room behind her and “walked around a little” for about 45 minutes.

Just prior to the stabbing, Clark and the triage nurse talked briefly about setting up DelFratte with a ride home.

Shortly after that, the phone rang and it was her husband telling her he would pick her up in a half hour, she said.

“I was talking and the next thing I know there was a sharp pain,” Clark said. “It felt like someone hit me in the shoulder with a boulder.”

“They heard me scream,” Clark said through tears. “I was in such shock, I turned around and saw Justin standing there.”

She said that DelFratte had been in the emergency room several times before but she did not know him beyond that and never had any reason to feel uncomfortable around him.

Clark’s co-worker, nursing assistant Dorothy Morrow, told Songer that she followed DelFratte out of the ER after the attack and yelled at him to stop, which he did. She said she caught up with him in the parking lot halfway to East State Street and ordered him back.

“It had nothing to do with being brave,” Morrow said. “I was mad.”

Morrow said DelFratte turned around and walked back to the hospital, dropped a 4-inch-long knife he was holding and was held by security until Sharon police arrived.

After the women’s testimony, Songer held the charges against DelFratte to Mercer County Common Plea Court and sent DelFratte back to Mercer County Jail.

DelFratte mentally ill, mother says

Justin DelFratte’s mother says her son is mentally ill and his actions the day Linda Clark was stabbed prove it.

“I think it clearly, clearly showed that he had absolutely no idea what he did,” Christine Simon, DelFratte’s mother, said after her son’s preliminary hearing Wednesday on charges of attempted homicide and aggravated assault.

“Anyone in their right mind would be running like heck. He was just walking with a knife in his hand. He did exactly what he was told. He was exactly like a robot.”

Simon, a registered nurse who works in Boardman, Ohio, said her son has battled mental health issues for about four years.

DelFratte told her he has heard voices that tell him what to do, Simon said.

DelFratte underwent a competency exam, but his mother said she has not been told the results.

Prior to the attack, Simon said, she begged medical staff at Sharon Regional Health System not to release DelFratte after she involuntarily committed him to the hospital.

“All we were asking Sharon Regional to do was to have his medication monitored and make sure he’s thinking properly,” Simon said.

“My heart aches for Linda and her family. Two families are suffering terribly because this never should have happened.”

“There’s no intent with this woman, he didn’t know her,” Simon said. “It’s very sad because I know a lot of people truly do not understand mental illness. Nobody takes it seriously. It exists. It’s out there.”

DelFratte’s family is very close-knit, according to Simon, and they have always done whatever they could to help her son.

Simon said her son has been convicted of possession of paraphernalia charges, but he “has never physically hurt anyone in his life. He comes from a good family. He’s a good person. He’s mentally ill.

“So many people are sitting in prisons that are truly psychiatric patients,” she said.

 

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