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Family tragedy aired at manslaughter sentencing

By Karen Florin

Publication: theday.com

Published February 07. 2014 12:00PM   Updated February 08. 2014 12:25AM

The mother of 24-year-old Jeffrey Savoy, who fatally stabbed another son, John Coddington, in Sept. 2012 wept throughout Savoy's sentencing this morning in New London Superior Court.

Savoy had pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter, accepting the state's offered sentence of 11 years in prison followed by eight years of special parole.

Lisa Coddington, the mother of both the victim and his convicted killer, was too distraught to address the court. Victim Advocate Beth Ann Hess handed Coddington a box of tissues and spoke on her behalf.

"She wants everyone to realize she lost one son to death and another son to jail," said Hess. "And now the kids' mom is considering moving away for a new start, so she'll lose her grandchildren as well."

Savoy, a slight man with dark curly hair, turned to his family members and apologized before Judge Hillary B. Strackbein imposed the sentence.

"I just want to apologize to everyone," he said softly. "It was an accident. I didn't mean it. I didn't mean it."

Another brother, Tyus Lawrence, told Savoy he forgives him. Also present was a sister, Latisha Knight, who is charged with interfering with the police investigation after Savoy went to her home following the stabbing.

Prosecutor David J. Smith said it was a tragedy for everyone involved. He noted the mother was sitting next to Coddington's girlfriend in court, even though the girlfriend, Kimberly Bewlay, had told court officials that Savoy should serve a longer sentence - "a life for a life," she said.

"You can see how complicated and intertwined a situation it is," Smith said.

Defense Attorney Theodore Koch said he could feel all the pain in the room.

"Jeff told me from the beginning he didn't mean to do it," Koch said.

According to the state, Savoy and Coddington argued after Savoy took Coddington's two young children from his home at 231 North Main St. in Jewett City because Coddington and Bewlay, were arguing, pushing each other and spitting in each other's face. Savoy put the kids into Bewlay's Dodge Durango, dropped them off at his sister's house and returned to Coddington's residence later to pick up clothes, according to a police report.

Coddington came out of the house swearing, and the encounter turned physical. Savoy allegedly took out a knife with a 3-inch blade. Bewlay said Coddington told Savoy, "Don't pull a knife on me. If you want to fight, use your hands. I'm your brother."

Coddington ran from the home, bleeding and calling for help, to the nearby Bestway gas station and convenience store. He was pronounced dead a short time later at The William W. Backus Hospital.

Savoy admitted he was a drug addict and had been high when he stabbed his brother. In court, Savoy's mother told her son he has to know that "drugs destroyed his life."

Judge Strackbein said society is filled with people whose lives were ruined by drugs.

"Drugs are not victimless crimes," she told Savoy. "You're a victim of drugs. Your brother is a victim of drugs. You have to stay straight and try to make up for what you've done."

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