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Joey M. Paul

BALLSTON SPA -- The Schuylerville woman who shot her boyfriend to death at their home two summers ago pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge Thursday.

Joey M. Paul, 30, was to stand trial later this year for the shooting death of Matthew Furlani in the couple's Church Street home July 1, 2012. She tearfully pleaded guilty in Saratoga County Court on Thursday.

Furlani, 28, was killed by a shot to the head from his high-powered AK-47 semiautomatic rifle.

The two had a stormy relationship, with accusations of prior domestic violence made by each against the other. Neighbors said the couple were arguing in the moments before the shooting.

Paul had been charged with second-degree murder, but was allowed to plead guilty to a reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter. She likely faces a state prison sentence of 18.5 years.

Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy said is office and Judge Jerry Scarano consented to the reduction to manslaughter because Paul's defense lawyer was preparing a defense in which it would have been claimed she suffered from "extreme emotional disturbance" that led to the shooting.

That could have resulted in a jury rejecting the murder count and instead concluding that manslaughter was appropriate.

Murphy said Paul had "previous medical diagnosis" that would have played a part in the extreme emotional disturbance defense, but he said he could not elaborate on the medical issue because of medical privacy rules.

"This conviction is what we would have expected after trial," Murphy said in a news release. "She committed the murder, but would have been permitted to interpose the affirmative defense of 'extreme emotional disturbance' based on her previous medical diagnosis. Justice required that the judge and we consider that in this disposition."

Paul was evaluated at Central New York Psychiatric Center while the charges were pending, officials said. She was found fit to stand trial.

The district attorney said Furlani's family was present in court for the guilty plea and was "grateful for the closure" the guilty plea brought.

Paul's lawyer, Frederick Rench, said Paul was remorseful and wept through the proceeding. He also would not comment on what caused her extreme emotional disturance that day, calling it a "personal matter."

"This is what can happen when you have drug abuse, domestic abuse and a fully loaded assault rifle in the home," Rench said. "She had great remorse and wanted to plead guilty, wanted to admit what she did."

Paul is being held in Saratoga County Jail pending sentencing on Jan. 7. She will spend up to 5 years on parole after completing the prison term.

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