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STABBING WAS IN SELF-DEFENSE, JURY RULES

SHARE STABBING WAS IN SELF-DEFENSE, JURY RULES

A six-woman, two-man jury acquitted a Salt Lake woman in the stabbing death of her husband Tuesday and sent her home free.

The 3rd Circuit Court jury deliberated for three hours before it returned the verdict that Margaret Provancial, 31, was not guilty of the second-degree murder charge filed against her."That's incomprehensible! I'm very surprised about it (the verdict) and very disappointed," said prosecutor Tom Vuyk.

"We had an unsympathetic victim and a pathetic and sympathetic defendant who sat there with her children and wept and wept and wept and the jury felt sorry for her," he said. "She got a great deal of sympathy."

Provancial stabbed her husband, Oscar Ortega, 31, as he was walking out of a downtown bar Dec. 29 arm in arm with two other women. Defense attorney Andy Valdez said she stabbed him only in self-defense, and the jury agreed.

"He had a right to live, there's no question about that. But she had a right to survive, too," he said.

Valdez said Ortega was a known drug dealer who repeatedly beat Provancial - a mother of four - before and after they were married. Valdez presented the jury with several police reports showing Ortega's violent nature. As she went to the Annex Bar, 666 S. State, on the night of the homicide, she had a kitchen knife with her in the event that she ran into Ortega.

"Why is it unreasonable for her to believe she's in danger? She's been beaten in less-stressful circumstances," Valdez said. "On that night the fear was the same fear she had had for over a year with this man."

But Vuyk argued that she knew her husband frequented the Annex, and questioned her reason for going there at 12:30 a.m. that night. "If you fear for your life, do you put a knife in your pocket and go to the exact place where he might be?"

Vuyk said it was clear that she and her 15-year-old niece had been waiting in the parking lot for Ortega, and when she saw him leave the bar with the two women, she yelled, "That's my husband!" and stabbed him because of extreme jealousy.

"They said it was coincidence. They suddenly stepped out and there was Mr. Ortega walking down the street," he said. "That is incredulous."

Following a brief scuffle outside the bar, Ortega staggered across the street bleeding from a single stab wound to the heart. After he had fallen to the ground, patrons from the bar pawed through his pockets for cash and drugs while Provancial jumped in a car and sped away.

Four days later, she surrendered to authorities.

Valdez told the jury the witnesses the state had presented were not reliable. Two of them had previously been convicted of supplying false information to the police and most were intoxicated with alcohol and drugs at the time, he said.

"They all still hang out at this place. They all know each other . . . They all have some kind of interest in this case," he said of the witnesses.