Trial begins for Carrollton grandmother charged with fatally stabbing daughter’s husband

Published 5:17 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2024

The trial of a Carrollton grandmother charged with fatally stabbing her daughter’s husband began Jan. 16.

Testimony is expected to last three days, after which an Isle of Wight County jury will decide whether 69-year-old Theresa Knightnor committed first-degree murder, as prosecutors have charged.

Almost exactly two years ago, on Jan. 20, 2022, Isle of Wight sheriff’s deputies found 54-year-old Maurice Doctor dead on the floor of a bedroom in the Smiths Neck Road residence he’d shared with Knightnor’s 49-year-old daughter, Charlitta, and the couple’s children. He’d been stabbed in the back.

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Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Edwards and Knightnor’s attorney, Mufeed Said, each noted in their opening statements to the jury that Doctor had argued and had a physical altercation with the couple’s 14-year-old son, Kemaun, just prior to the stabbing.

Edwards noted Knightnor herself had called 911 on the night in question and had told dispatchers she was “scared” of Doctor, but contended she placed the call minutes after she’d already stabbed him. Sheriff’s Office Capt. Ronald Bryan, director of Isle of Wight’s emergency dispatch center, later testified three 911 calls had originated that evening from the Knightnor residence. In an earlier call, which prosecutors played for the jury, Kemaun tells dispatchers, “My dad, he’s bleeding,” and “my grandma, she stabbed him.”

“He’s on the ground and he’s not waking up,” Kemaun told dispatchers.

According to Edwards and testimony by Dr. Wendy Gunther, a medical examiner, Doctor was stabbed in the back with a kitchen knife near his right shoulder with sufficient force to create the 7 3/4-inch-deep fatal wound that punctured his lung.

Said, who argues Knightnor acted in defense of her grandson, made reference in his opening statement to Doctor’s alleged threat to kill Kemaun. 

Knightnor, Charlitta and her children “all loved” Doctor, but that night “he was out of control,” Said told the Jury. Gunther later testified that on the day in question Doctor’s blood alcohol level had been 0.122, nearly twice the legal threshold for driving under the influence, and he had also been high on cocaine.

Sheriff’s Office Investigator Donald Edwards later testified he’d found Doctor’s body face-up on his back in a bedroom, but believes the stabbing took place in another bedroom at the opposite end of the house where the kitchen knife was discovered.

Virginia law defines first-degree murder as murder “other than aggravated murder, by poison, lying in wait, imprisonment, starving, or by any willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing.” If convicted, Knightnor faces five to 40 years in prison.