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Published June 08 2012

Man explains motive for stabbing neighbor in jailhouse letter

FARGO – A Wahpeton man sentenced to 15 years in prison last month for trying to stab his neighbor to death says he wanted her dead because she was an inconsiderate, noisy neighbor and, “I believed the world would be a better place without her in it.”

His victim, 26-year-old Trista Martin, said she is “very, very upset” about the letters Patrick Wolfgram sent to at least two Fargo media outlets.

“I’m being revictimized through this,” Martin said Friday. “I get that he wants to have his voice heard, but if it wasn’t a bunch of lies and mental instability, it would make more sense.”

In a handwritten letter dated June 3 and mailed to The Forum from the Richland County Jail, Wolfgram wrote that because Martin has spoken out about what happened, he thinks it’s only fair that people should hear his side of the story and know “I’m not a ‘bad guy.’ ”

Wolfgram, 24, pleaded guilty to stabbing Martin in the head, neck and back numerous times on Oct. 14 as she smoked a cigarette outside the Community Homes apartment building where they both lived.

In his nine-page letter, he explained that he is legally blind and was living on Social Security in August 2010 when he moved into Community Homes from his previous apartment because it had become intolerably noisy and he’s sensitive to noise.

Wolfgram wrote that the first six months in Community Homes “felt like a living hell” because of noise issues he partly blamed on Martin and her boyfriend across the hall.

When they moved out, Wolfgram “finally had a relatively quiet home,” he wrote.

But he was “devastated” when he returned home one weekend last June and saw the apartment above him occupied.

A couple of weeks later, when he heard a woman yelling and realized it was Martin and her boyfriend who had moved in above, “I then became very confused,” he wrote.

He became increasingly irritated and sleep-deprived and “felt trapped there,” he wrote.

Wolfgram began to judge and hate Martin “to an extreme degree” for her appearance, her smoking habit, the people she associated with and “for all her inconsiderate, noisy behaviors,” he wrote.

Martin said she and her boyfriend got along with all of their neighbors except Wolfgram, “because he was the only one that seemed to not care about getting along with us.”

Wolfgram wrote that he now knows “how completely wrong” his actions were, and that Martin “is no way to blame for my vicious attack, nor did she provoke it, despite her behavior. I’m completely at fault.”

Still, Wolfgram believes he doesn’t deserve the 15-year prison sentence, writing, “Five years or less is perfectly reasonable.”

Martin disagreed, noting the sentence equates to about 10 months for each of her 17 stab wounds.

“Nice guys just don’t go stabbing people because of miniscule problems,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528