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Family tragedy revealed in fatal stabbing

By Karen Florin

Publication: theday.com

Published September 05. 2012 1:00PM   Updated September 06. 2012 5:05PM
Dana Jensen/The Day
Jeffrey Savoy appears in Norwich Superior Court on manslaughter charges Wednesday for the stabbing death of John Coddington in Jewett City Tuesday.

Court documents in the manslaughter case of 22-year-old Jeffrey Savoy reveal a family tragedy that a Superior Court judge likened Wednesday to the biblical tale of Cain and Abel.

Savoy is accused of fatally stabbing his 27-year-old brother, John Coddington, in the neck Tuesday morning after the two fought about Coddington’s two young children.

Savoy told police he took the kids from their home at 231 North Main St. in Jewett City because Coddington and his girlfriend, Kimberly Bewlay, were arguing, pushing each other and spitting in each other’s faces. He put the kids into Bewlay’s Dodge Durango, dropped them off at his sister’s house and returned to Coddington’s residence later to pick up clothes, according to a police report.

Before removing the children from the home, Savoy said he checked with his mother, Lisa Coddington. Bewlay told police that Savoy also reminded her and Coddington about a court order that prohibited them from being together. Savoy told police that Bewlay got in the passenger seat of her car, but Coddington pulled her out of the car.

Coddington had a pending court case for allegedly punching Bewlay, who was pregnant at the time, in the face in February 2012. A judge had issued a protective order prohibiting Coddington from contacting Bewlay, but the two were apparently living together as of Tuesday.

After the February incident, which occurred in Norwich, Bewlay told police that Coddington had once injured her so badly that she was hospitalized, but that she was afraid to call police because he had threatened her and said he would send someone after her.

On Tuesday, when Savoy went back to the Jewett City home with Bewlay’s car, Coddington came out of the house swearing, and the encounter turned physical. Savoy allegedly took out a knife with a 3-inch blade. Bewlay said Coddington told him, “Don’t pull a knife on me. If you want to fight, use your hands. I’m your brother.”

Savoy is 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs 130 pounds. His brother was at least 5 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier, according to court records.

A short time later, Coddington was bleeding profusely and calling for help at the nearby Bestway convenience store. State police were called to the store at 11:44 a.m. He was pronounced dead a short time later at The William W. Backus Hospital.

Savoy was arrested at the home of his sister at 46 Mechanic St. later in the day. Troopers said he attempted to flee and resisted arrest by clenching his arms and kicking them. He was taken to Backus for observation and at his arraignment Wednesday he wore a hospital gown.

Savoy is charged with first-degree manslaughter, assault on a police officer and interfering with an officer. Though several people who attended the court proceeding said they knew the brothers, it appeared that no family members were present.

“It’s the original Cain and Abel case,” Judge Kevin P. McMahon said as Savoy stood before him in shackles. “The whole family is involved.”

McMahon, who set Savoy’s bond at $1 million and transferred the case to the court where major crimes are heard, said the police report of the incident did contain some mitigation, or information that could make the crime appear less severe.

“But he did stab his brother in the neck and he died shortly thereafter,” McMahon said.

Savoy was unemployed, according to court records. He has two convictions for third-degree assault and two convictions for violation of probation.

Savoy told police Coddington pushed him down the stairs and out the back door and began punching him because he was upset about his children being taken from the house. Savoy said he told Coddington to stop, and Coddington punched him again in the chest. Savoy said he then pulled out a small knife and told Coddington again to stop. He said Coddington swung at him again and hit him in the chest.

At the same time Coddington hit him, he said, his right arm “swung in a reflex and the knife ended up catching him (Coddington) in the side of his neck.” After he was stabbed, Coddington ran to the nearby Bestway convenience store seeking help. Police were called at 11:44 a.m.

Savoy said he pulled into the Bestway, because he wanted to take his brother to the hospital, but Bewlay and Coddington told him to leave.

The mother of the two brothers, Lisa Coddington, told police she was at work when Savoy called to tell her Coddington and Bewlay were arguing. She said Savoy called her later and asked “if I would get mad at him if he killed one of my sons.” She said the conversation ended, and she later learned that Coddington was dead.

An austopsy has been scheduled for today, according to the state office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Savoy’s next court date is Sept. 24 in New London Superior Court, when he is expected to be appointed a public defender.

k.florin@theday.com

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