NEWPORTS NEWS (WAVY) — Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said his officers will remember the horrific scene for the rest of their careers.
Around 9:30 on the evening of May 11, 2021, police responded to a call at an apartment on Hilltop Drive. They entered the front door to find large amounts blood in multiple rooms. Sarah Ganoe and her two severely wounded children were found on a bed.
The children had been horrifically attacked with a pocketknife. Although life saving measures were performed, Zell Howard, who was 10 months old, was pronounced dead at the scene.
A medical examination found that the other child, then-8-year-old Winter Ganoe, was stabbed 49 times, including a large laceration on her neck.
Friday morning, a judge accepted Sarah Ganoe’s plea deal for charges related to the stabbings.
She kept her head down and cried several times as police bodycam video of the scene was played in court. That video was just one piece of extremely graphic evidence submitted Friday. Though it won’t be presented to a jury, the judge will use the evidence to help determine Ganoe’s sentence, which could be as much as life in prison.
In exchange for the plea, prosecutors said they wouldn’t be moving forward with two of the six original charges. She effectively admitted guilt to two counts of child abuse (substantial bodily injury), one count of murder and one count of aggravated malicious wounding.
A sentencing date is set for Sept. 8.
The judge asked Ganoe a range of questions to make sure she understood the plea agreement. When he asked if she was pleading guilty “because your are in fact guilty,” there was a long pause before her emotionally strained answer, “yes, your honor.”
The judge announced that Ganoe’s medical records, including mental health evaluations and treatment, related to the case would be submitted as evidence but sealed from the public’s view.