A tearful Patricia Vonah told Cumberland County Judge Edward E. Guido on Thursday that she spiraled into depression and alcoholism when William Vonah, her husband of 30 years, was diagnosed with Pick's disease, a degenerative brain disorder that left him unable to care for himself.
"My whole life was gone. He was my pal, my buddy, my everything. And I was losing him," Vonah said.
Police said she placed a pillow over her husband's face in July in his room at the Sarah A. Todd Memorial Home in Carlisle and sat on it in an attempt to suffocate him. Nursing home staff members stopped her, and he survived.
Vonah, 59, of Silver Spring Township, a former West Shore School District reading specialist, pleaded guilty in November to charges of reckless endangerment and six drunken driving counts.
Guido could have sentenced her to more than 15 years in state prison but said he was convinced she had not attacked her husband out of malice.
"I don't feel a need to punish you," he said. "I do, however, feel a need to protect both you and the citizens of this county until you get your alcohol abuse under control."