Lawyers say there is no new evidence to support the indictment, alleges a different killer in 1982 Brighton slaying
Lawyers for James Krauseneck Jr., accused of killing his wife in February 1982 in Brighton with an ax blow to her head, say that prosecutors have yet to show why it took nearly four decades to bring a murder charge against Krauseneck.
"Their burden is to demonstrate there was due cause to wait 37 years to bring this indictment," Michael Wolford, one of Krauseneck's attorneys, said during a court hearing Monday.
Krauseneck's attorneys have asked for what is known as a Singer hearing, at which they'll argue that there is no new evidence that justifies the delay in the murder charge.
"I'm not sure you've had a case like this," Wolford said to state Supreme Court Justice Charles Schiano Jr. as they discussed the possible hearing.
"No, I haven't," Schiano said. "I'm not sure anyone has."
"There's no new evidence, only an opinion," Wolford said.
"We'll see," Schiano answered.
Krauseneck's lawyers are asking for the indictment to be dismissed. The hearing Monday was a road map to issues that will be central to the Singer hearing and a trial, should it go ahead.
Much of the discussion focused on defense demands for records relating to: an opinion from a pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden, that says Krauseneck's wife, Cathleen, was likely killed before James Krauseneck left their Brighton home the morning of the homicide; and defense claims that the late Ed Laraby, who before his death alleged he committed multiple homicides, likely killed Cathleen "Cathy" Krauseneck.
Monroe County Assistant District Attorney William Gargan said that his office has "no quarrel with unsealing" information connected to Laraby, but a court order is necessary. Schiano said he would sign such an order.
"They have all sorts of information about his modus operandi, his prior bad acts," attorney William Easton, who also is representing Krauseneck, said of the District Attorney's Office and Laraby.
Laraby was a violent sexual predator who was long suspected of killing Greece music teacher Stephanie Kupchynsky in 1991. When dying in prison in 2014, Laraby admitted to the homicide, and provided such explicit details that he was charged with murder. He died before a trial.
But Laraby, seeking to be moved to a hospital before his death, also made other statements in which he said he committed homicides — one of them was a claim he killed Cathy Krauseneck.
James Krauseneck's defense lawyers say that Laraby's statement, Laraby's violent history, and the fact that he lived within a half-mile of the Krausenecks' home in February 1982, are solid proof that he murdered Cathy Krauseneck. In 1982 Brighton police tried to question Laraby, but he would not cooperate.
Gargan said after the hearing that Laraby's statement about the ax killing was rife with errors: Laraby said Cathy Krauseneck was out of the bed when he allegedly struck her with the ax, and she was in the bed; he said she was naked, and she was clothed; and his physical description was wrong, from her hair color to her size.
Also, Gargan said, Laraby made other supposed confessions that Gargan will show at trial were "incredible."
Easton said the passage of time explains why Laraby may have erred on the details of the homicide.
Krauseneck's defense also contends that the new report from Baden, a well-known forensics psychologist, is convenient for the prosecution and not based on scientifically reliable information.
In 1982, pathologists determined that the time of death ranged from several hours before James Krauseneck left the home at 6:30 a.m. — there is solid proof that he left then for his economist job at Eastman Kodak Co. — until several hours later. But Baden in a 2019 report places the time squarely before Krauseneck's alibi.
Easton and Wolford have asked for any proof that prosecutors reached out to other pathologists to review the case.
Both the prosecution and defense agree on one point: With the passage of time, key witnesses have died, and records are spread out across multiple police agencies.
"The passage of time does not help the prosecution, does not help the defense," Gargan said.