December 19, 2014

Elyria
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William Dembie Jr. settles wrongful death lawsuit with slain wife’s family

William Dembie

William Dembie

Holly Dembie

Holly Dembie

ELYRIA — Convicted killer William Dembie Jr. has agreed to pay the family of his slain wife $200,000 to settle the wrongful death lawsuit they filed against him.

Dembie, 45, is serving a prison sentence of 20 years to life for stabbing his estranged wife, Holly Dembie, to death Aug. 11, 2011, at the couple’s Cowley Road home in Grafton Township.

He was convicted of murder and felonious assault in the killing, but acquitted by Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski of a more serious aggravated murder charge. Dembie is appealing his sentence arguing that he should only have received a prison term of 15 years to life.

J. Anthony Rich, Dembie’s lawyer, said his client agreed to the settlement because there’s a chance he might actually be able to pay off that amount if he ever gets out of prison. If the civil case had gone to trial and his client had been ordered to pay a multimillion-dollar figure to Holly Dembie’s family, it would have been uncollectible, he said.

Rich also said he didn’t think his client, who was a guard at the Lorain County Jail at the time of the killing, had much chance of winning before a jury.

“There’s not a whole lot to try because he was willing to plead to murder,” he said.

Timothy Sweeney, who represents Holly Dembie’s mother, Cheryl Foldes, said he doubts his client will ever see a dime from Dembie, but it was never about the money for her. Rather, he said, it was another way to hold William Dembie accountable for his actions.

“There’s no amount of money that could ever make up for that kind of loss and that kind of trauma,” he said.

He said that William Dembie already lost his interest in the family’s home in a separate court action.

Dembie told investigators that the couple got into an argument about their troubled marriage that escalated into violence. He said he got a combat knife to hold so that Holly Dembie would listen to him.

But she tried to flee from her husband, who pulled her shirt off. Holly Dembie was climbing out of a second-floor bathroom window when William Dembie forced open the door, pulled off her pants and stabbed her before letting her fall to the ground outside.

He then went outside and stabbed her several more times before calling the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office and reported that he had almost beheaded his wife.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.