Tamasa Nobles, 20, appears in this file photo taken shortly after her arrest. 

Provided by Atlantic County Corr

A woman was sentenced to 20 years in state prison today for stabbing a man after what Superior Court Judge Michael Donio called a “silly argument over a stupid key.”

Tamasa Nobles, 20, admitted in April she fatally stabbed Devon Devine, 20, at her home the 300 block of Wissahickon Avenue on Dec. 2, 2012. The original charge of murder was dropped to first-degree aggravated manslaughter in a plea agreement. The agreement reduced the possible maximum to 22 years.

The stabbing came after a series of physical altercations between Devine and Nobles centering on his refusal to give her a key, Superior Court Judge Michael Donio said. Nobles attacked Devine with a knife after the initial argument but was restrained by a third party and disarmed. After a brief period, Nobles attacked Devine with another knife as he was leaving her home, killing him.

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Prior to handing down the sentence, Donio said Nobles had a troubled childhood and that she and Devine, who were a couple, had a history of domestic incidents. He recalled her first appearance in court, where her attorney requested that photographs be taken to verify she had been injured on the day of the stabbing.

"This was a sad, sad affair from the first day and it's been that way for 18 months," Donio said.

Ventnor police had been called to the home a month before the killing. A record of that incident indicated there was no physical altercation.

The charge of first-degree aggravated assault carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years. Donio said he gave Nobles a median sentence because the mitigating and aggravating circumstances in the case carried roughly equal weight.

Members of both families addressed the court prior to sentencing. Devine's grandmother Deborah Keys-Frazier, who had raised him since he was a toddler, said she is praying despite her grief for Nobles to get help.

“He was a good man, a good boy,” she said. “My heart aches. But honestly, in my heart, Tamasa, I forgive you.”

Devine’s brother, sister and aunt also spoke.

Nobles father Larry Nobles also spoke, pleading for leniency on his behalf.

“It’s two families that have found tragedy,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do to bring him back. Maybe we can help her out some.”

After the sentence was handed out, Keys-Frazier found Nobles in the hall outside the courtroom. She held his hands, telling him through tears she believes his daughter would be forgiven.

“I know God, and God forgives everyone,” she said.

Nobles is required to spend 85 percent of her sentence in prison pursuant to the No Early Release Act. She has already served about 18 months.

Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.

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