A panel of judges has rejected an appeal for leniency from a Tompkins County man who stabbed his estranged wife’s boyfriend to death in 2012, according to court documents.

Dana Houghtling, of Groton, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter charges after killing Jeff West.

Houghtling had argued that his 15-to-life sentence in the death was excessive and unfair.

The judges deciding the case for the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division disagreed, according to their ruling submitted on Thursday.

“Notwithstanding defendant’s expression of remorse and lack of criminal record, his rage and relentless pursuit of the victim, culminating in this brutal assault that took place in front of a home with five children inside and resulted in the victim’s death, persuades us that there are no extraordinary circumstances nor any abuse of discretion warranting a reduction of the sentence in the interest of justice,” the judges write.

The order gives the following account of the killing:

On March 25, 2012, Houghtling’s wife and her boyfriend arrived at Houghtling’s home.

“A heated verbal exchange ensued that escalated into a brief physical confrontation between defendant and the victim,” the ruling states.

Houghtling drove his car across the lawn of the home “with such force that it rolled over against the home.” He then got out of the vehicle, knife in each hand, and chased West before stabbing him multiple times.

West got into this wife’s vehicle as she tried to drive away, but Houghtling “smashed the passenger side window and continued to stab the victim,” the judges write.

“The wife attempted to stop defendant and he eventually fled the scene. The victim, however, subsequently died from his injuries.”

Read the ruling here:

Groton death


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.