Woonsocket murder victim was stabbed in the neck

MURDER SUSPECT Matthew Novak is brought into the Sanborn County Courthouse by Deputy Jason Coenen for his Sept. 13 court appearance.

MURDER SUSPECT Matthew Novak is brought into the Sanborn County Courthouse by Deputy Jason Coenen for his Sept. 13 court appearance.

Jennifer Gibson died of a stab wound to the neck, according the Sanborn County States Attorney Jeff Larson.
Gibson, 26, was killed in her home at 206 S. Third Ave., Woonsocket, in the very early morning hours of Aug. 31 says Larson. “She was stabbed in the neck and that was the fatal blow,” added Larson.
Thirty-three-year-old Matthew Novak, whom neighbors say lived with Gibson at the home with her four children, was arrested on second degree murder charges around 10:30 that morning.
Police received a call about a situation at the home around 9:15 a.m. and immediately responded in force, surrounding the home and blocking off a section of the neighborhood a half block west of Woonsocket’s main street. Novak was taken into custody without incident.
A Sanborn County Grand Jury later indicted Novak on  first and second degree murder and two charges of first degree manslaughter for the death of Gibson. Novak pleaded not guilty Sept. 13, appearing in Sanborn County court with his court appointed attorney, Jeffrey Burns.
A motions hearing is set for Nov. 8 and jury trial is scheduled to begin  Jan. 11, with Third Circuit Judge Jon Erickson presiding.  Larson is being assisted with the prosecution by Assistant Attorney General Brent Kempema.
Novak is currently being held in the Beadle County Jail on a $350,000 bond.
Novak and Gibson had a child together in January and were recognized by the Huron Regional Medical Center and local media for having the first baby born in Huron  in 2016. According to Gibson’s obituary, she was engaged to be married to Alan Titus on Sept. 20.
If convicted of first degree murder, Novak faces the possibility of a sentence of death or a minimum of life in prison. The second degree murder charge carries a minimum sentence of life in prison, without the ability to invoke the death penalty. First degree manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The Sanborn and Jerauld county sheriff’s offices, the Division of Criminal Investigation and the Highway Patrol all assisted in the  investigation.

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