December 17, 2014

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Emotions boil over at William Dembie’s sentencing

A prosecutor's office employee holds back Leslie Gregg, of Brookpark, the uncle of Holly Dembie, during his outburst directed at William Dembie. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

A prosecutor’s office employee holds back Leslie Gregg, of Brookpark, the uncle of Holly Dembie, during his outburst directed at William Dembie. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — Holly Dembie’s uncle tried to charge her killer, William Dembie Jr., during a sentencing hearing Monday after Dembie criticized his slain wife’s mother, Cheryl Foldes.

“You know what, I’ve had enough! You cut her throat twice! You stabbed her eight times! You cold-blooded (expletive) killer… I’ve had enough of the (expletive),” Leslie Gregg yelled as members of his family and a staff member from Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will’s office restrained him and pushed him out of the courtroom.

Cheryl Foldes, the mother of Holly Dembie, yells during William Dembie's statement to the court. Dembie made numerous comments critical of Foldes and other members of his dead wife's family.

Cheryl Foldes, the mother of Holly Dembie, yells during William Dembie’s statement to the court. Dembie made numerous comments critical of Foldes and other members of his dead wife’s family.

Gregg’s outburst came just after Dembie had said that Foldes wasn’t putting the son he fathered with Holly Dembie first.

“Shame on you, Cheryl,” Dembie said.

“That is enough,” Foldes replied.

Dembie, 45, was found guilty by county Common Pleas Judge Mark Belteski earlier this month of murder, felonious assault and domestic violence charges for the Aug. 11, 2011, slaying of Holly Dembie at the estranged couple’s Cowley Road home in Grafton Township.

Betleski, who had cleared Dembie of a more serious aggravated murder charge, sentenced the former Lorain County Jail guard to 20 years to life in prison at the conclusion of Monday’s hearing.

RELATED: Videos from the sentencing hearing

Before that, the Dembie and the Foldes families painted starkly contrasting pictures of who Holly Dembie had been before the 2011 argument turned deadly.

Foldes, who called Dembie “evil” and a “monster,” said her former son-in-law had routinely abused her daughter. She said Dembie was a loving woman who worked with special-education students at Midview Schools and helped care for her own disabled niece.

A prosecutor’s office employee pushes Leslie Gregg of Brook Park, uncle of murder victim Holly Dembie, toward the courtroom exit Monday during his outburst directed at convicted killer William Dembie.

A prosecutor’s office employee pushes Leslie Gregg
of Brook Park, uncle of murder victim Holly Dembie, toward the courtroom exit Monday during his outburst directed at convicted killer William Dembie.

But Dembie wanted to get away from her abusive husband, Foldes said, because of how he treated her.

“She did not love or respect him,” Foldes said.

William Dembie and his mother, Doris Dembie, however, portrayed Holly Dembie as the abuser.

Dembie said that he met Holly Dembie in a bar as his first marriage was ending, and they quickly fell in love. He said she loved his three children from his first marriage and acted as if they were her stepchildren even before they were married.

But after their wedding, Dembie said, his wife changed, trying to drive a wedge between him and his older children. He described her as abusive and controlling toward him, but that he never got violent with her.

During the trial, prosecutors played a tape of Dembie talking to Lorain County sheriff’s detectives the night of the killing in which he made similar allegations.

On that tape, Dembie said he waited for Holly Dembie to return home from a night out with friends and tried to talk to her about their failing marriage and her desire for a divorce. He said at one point she pushed him, and he punched her.

Later, Dembie told detectives, he got a combat knife that he thought would compel his wife to listen to him. He said he became angry when she began telling him what he wanted to hear.

Prosecutors have said Dembie tried to flee her husband, who ended up pulling off her shirt somewhere in the house before she made it into a second-floor bathroom and shut the door.

Dembie told detectives that when he got the door open, Holly Dembie was trying to climb out of the bathroom window. He grabbed her, pulling off her pants, before stabbing her and letting her fall.

William Dembie listens as the judge reads his sentence. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

William Dembie listens as the judge reads his sentence.

He then went downstairs and stabbed her multiple times around her neck.

“I had no right doing what I did,” Dembie said Monday. “Obviously, I wasn’t thinking. I was in a place where I had no control over my actions.”

After killing his wife, Dembie said he called then-dispatcher Joi Sanchez at the Sheriff’s Office and reported that he had nearly beheaded his wife. He said until the trial he had never heard that call. During the trial, Sanchez said Dembie’s tone while reporting the killing was akin to him ordering a pizza.

But Dembie said his emotions were racing and that he planned to kill himself before deputies arrived. He only placed the call, he said, so that his son and Foldes wouldn’t come home and find Dembie’s nude body in a pool of blood.

Dembie said he ultimately decided against suicide because that would have been the easy way out and he wouldn’t be able to apologize to his children.

“I did enough damage for one night,” he said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.