Killer Wife Can Walk, Jury Says

Daily News

Jurors took less than two hours yesterday to find a Queens woman who admitted fatally stabbing her husband innocent on all counts. After the verdict, a weeping Vanessa McCray, 43, hugged her lawyer, her mother and the mother of the man she stabbed in the heart in their St. Albans home on Oct. 20, 2000. "I'm just so happy that God gave me the opportunity to tell my story," said McCray, who had told jurors she was a victim of abuse by husband Paul Bagnall. "The family standing by me, that was unity.

" Jurors said seeing the couple's daughter and Bagnall's mother testify for the defense, and listening to McCray's dramatic 911 call helped them decide the case. "It was traumatic," said juror Lenia Chaves-Maldonado, one of several jurors who wiped tears after hearing a tape of the call. "I couldn't sleep at night after hearing that.

" "We played the [911] tape over and over again," jury forewoman Lorraine O'Brien said. "You can actually see that she never wanted this to happen.

" McCray testified that she didn't mean to hurt Bagnall, 40, when she picked up a steak knife as he backed her into the kitchen. After 20 years of abuse, she said, she only meant to frighten him. But earlier in the evening, McCray had cut him with a toy, threw a highchair at him, and threatened him with a saw, prosecutor John Kosinski said in his closing remarks yesterday. "She took the knife and put it in the chest of an unarmed man," he said. Prosecutors had offered McCray five years' probation in exchange for pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter. A judge ordered a psychiatric exam when she declined the offer. "I'm happy for Vanessa," said her lawyer, Robert Kelly. "It was a tragedy what happened that night, but the family was always very supportive.

" "I'm just happy that's it's over," said McCray's teenage daughter, Ciara Bagnall, who had testified for her. "I always believed it was going to work out this way.

" Bagnall's mother said her son would not have wanted his wife to go to jail. "He just wanted to keep the family together," Doreen Bagnall said after hugging McCray. "I knew she did not mean [to kill him] the minute I walked into the house that night.