Husband gets max for killing wife

Mary Perham

A Rochester man convicted of the vicious slaying of his wife, Avoca-native Melissa Hammond, could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Christopher Hunter, 29, was sentenced Monday by state Supreme Court Justice Stephen K. Lindley to the maximum sentence of 25 years to life.

Hunter was found guilty Nov. 18 of the second-degree murder of his estranged wife on Avenue D in Rochester. Hammond was 28.

Police investigators said Hunter met with Hammond at his mother's house in mid-November 2006 when she dropped off the couple's three sons for a visit. After an argument outside the house, he slashed her 59 times with a fishing knife.

Hunter's defense contended his life at the time was out of control, especially after his recent release from prison on a felony DWI conviction.

But Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Jason McBride said Hunter was a controlling, possessive “jerk” who wrote threatening letters to his wife from prison and complained he couldn't get money for gas, cigarettes or beer if she left him.

“I really think he blamed her for what he did,” McBride said.

The murder has been characterized as one of the most brutal in the city in decades.

Hunter - who winked at Hammond's family moments before the jury verdict was announced last month - was far less cocky in front of Lindley Monday, McBride said. Instead he lost his temper.

“There were actually a couple of real outbursts, he didn't like what I was saying about him,” McBride said. “The judge had to order him to be quiet, or he would be removed.”

Melissa's stepmother, Pam Hammond, said the family was subdued during the sentencing.

“But we've had time to think about it and we're glad he got everything he could possible get,” Hammond said Monday.

Hunter will be eligible for parole in 25 years, with more hearings every two years.

“He's going to have a long time to think about what he did,” McBride said.