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Wahpeton stabbing victim had hoped for longer sentence for her assailant

Trista Martin

WAHPETON, N.D. - More than eight months after she was viciously attacked by her neighbor outside their apartment building, Trista Martin has received at least a small sense of closure.

On Tuesday, Patrick Wolfgram, the 24-year-old man who stabbed Martin in the head, neck and back numerous times on Oct. 14 while she smoked a cigarette, was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison.

Martin, 26, reached by phone in Wahpeton after she attended the hearing where Wolfgram was sentenced to the 20-year prison term, with five years suspended, said she is still recovering from the attack.

She has paralysis in the left side of her face and her left vocal cord, and her left arm has nerve damage that doctors have tried to repair through two separate surgeries. A third surgery - a tendon transfer - might be necessary sometime in the next year. Her neck, fractured by the force of Wolfgram's attack, is also slowly healing.

But overall, Martin said she's making progress.

"It's coming along slowly, but it's going," she said.

The injuries kept her from attending Wolfgram's first appearance in Richland County District Court, but since then she's attended every hearing, something she said she felt was important to do.

The sentencing, she said, was difficult for her. For the first time, the neighbor who had never been friendly before turning a knife on her last fall apologized in the courtroom.

"It was the first time that he spoke and showed remorse, the first time he said anything to me about an apology," she said. "That, to me, was really hard. I couldn't look at him while he was talking."

While Martin is happy Wolfgram is going to prison, she was frustrated at the length of the sentence, which she had hoped would be much longer.

"Twenty years is not enough time," she said.

Though Tuesday brought a sense of closure, she said, it didn't offset the pain and suffering she's experienced.

"It gives me closure in knowing that he can't hurt anybody else," she said. "But at the same time, it doesn't take away the scars, it doesn't take away the mental or physical damage.

"But it's enough for me right now to know that he can't do this again," she added.

Judge Richard Grosz gave Wolfgram credit for 229 days served in jail and also ordered him to serve five years of supervised probation after his release.

Wolfgram pleaded guilty to the charge of attempted murder last month.