Murder suspect waives hearing
Accused killer back in jail after brief court appearance
The Phoenicia woman charged with murdering her husband over the weekend was sent back to the Ulster County Jail without bail following a brief court appearance Tuesday afternoon.
Solane H. Verraine conferred with her attorney, Kevin Harp, in Shandaken Town Court before waiving a scheduled preliminary hearing. The case against her will remain in Town Court for the time being, though, rather than immediately be presented to an Ulster County grand
jury for a possible indictment.
The case was adjourned in Town Court until 3:30 p.m. Jan. 19.
Ulster County Assistant District Attorney Dana Blackmon said his office will move forward with the felony prosecution even while the Shandaken court maintains jurisdiction of the case. He also said Verraine waived the timeliness aspect of the prosecution and that his office has six months to indict her.
Felony cases are tried in county court, rather than local justice courts.
Verraine, 62, was charged with second-degree murder late Saturday in the death of her husband, John W. Owings Jr., 65, a musician who went by the stage name Johnny Asia.
The Ulster County Sheriff’s Office said it concluded Owings’ death, at 46 Route 214 in the Shandaken hamlet of Phoenicia,
was caused by Verraine “poison[ing] the victim ... with a combination of alcoholic beverages and prescription drugs.”
On her Facebook page, Verraine identifies herself as being married to Johnny Asia, and in a Saturday night posting, she wrote: “Please ... light a candle for Johnny that he pass into the light. Thank you. (W)ith all my heart.” Comments responding to that post suggested her husband had been ill.
Verraine’s Facebook page says the two wed in October 2014.
Some friends of both Owings and Verraine came to the court Tuesday to show support for the defendant.
Regardless of what happened, Verraine is hurting and needs to know people are behind her, said Phoenicia resident Marilyn Manning.
Manning, who knew Owings for about 20 years, said she was stunned when she heard about his death.
“We were all shocked,” Manning said. “Stunned. Devastated.”
Manning said she met Verraine about three years ago when Verraine came to the area to be with Owings but that she never really spent time with them as a couple.
Manning said Owings had some health problems, specifically with his back. But he was health conscious and walked miles and miles with big dumbbells in hand, she said.
She also said Owings was “an amazing musician,” a talented painter and craftsman “and funny as hell.”
A Facebook page for Johnny Asia says he turned 65 in May, and posts on the page early Monday included “So sad to hear that Johnny is gone” and “RIP Johnny, you were one of a kind.”
Manning said Verraine does not have any local relatives and that her mother who lives in Michigan. Another friend said Verraine has a sister who lives in Massachusetts.
Authorities have not provided a possible motive in the case. County Sheriff Paul VanBlarcum said Monday that Verraine has no prior criminal record.
Murder suspect Solane Verraine is escorted into Shandaken Town Court on Tuesday.