Brighton Ax Murder Day 1: 40 years ago Krauseneck looked “horrified”
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Tuesday, a trial started for an alleged murder that happened 40 years ago. On Feb. 19, 1982, Cathleen Krauseneck, a young mother in Brighton, was killed as she slept with one swing of an ax. And her husband at the time, James Krauseneck, is now on trial for murder.
The Monroe County DA’s office re-activated this case in 2016.
Krauseneck was arrested in 2019 and for the first time in 40 years, a jury is hearing testimony.
In her opening statement one of the prosecutors, Constance Patterson, told the jury this is a tale of two stories.
Either a burglary went bad or a murder was set up to look like a break-in.
Patterson then asked the jury to consider “does this look like a burglary? Do these pieces actually fit?”
Tuesday morning the first Brighton police officer on the scene testified.
Thomas Schirmer said he saw Krauseneck with another officer in his home outside his bedroom and said Krauseneck was “making emotional sounds… screaming, growling, that kind of thing…he didn’t say anything. Just screams and growls,” Schirmer said.
Schirmer said a tea set strewn across the floor in the Krauseneck home looked like it was carefully put there. The sugar container, for instance, was sitting upright. And he also said two axes were used to break into the house.
He said he “rarely if ever” had seen that before. He said the family dog was locked in the basement with no apparent food or water.
In 1982, the Krausenecks lived across the street from a woman named Eileen Marron-Keating.
On the evening of Febr. 19, 1982, she said James Krauseneck came to her door with his daughter.
She testified “By what I saw I told my kids to go upstairs. I said ‘what’s wrong?’ And he didn’t answer. He had a guttural sound. He looked horrified.”
The jury then heard Marron-Keating’s 40-year-old 911 call in which she said “please come to Del Rio Drive! There’s been, I think, a murder.”
Marron-Keating said James Krauseneck and his three-year-old daughter Sara stayed at her house for a while. She followed Krauseneck to the BPD to be with his daughter as he was with police.
“Sara told me to tell her fairytale stories,” Marron-Keating testified
One of Krauseneck’s lawyers, Michael Wolford, told the jury Krauseneck was at work at Kodak the morning of the 19th, there was no motive and no history of violence between James and Cathleen who met when they were in college at Western Michigan University.
The defense says the main suspect should have been Ed Laraby, a convicted killer and rapist, who confessed to the Krauseneck murder just before he died.
The defense admits parts of Laraby’s confession don’t align with the facts but they say it was made 30 plus years later and he was medicated for ALS.
One of Krauseneck’s other lawyers, Bill Easton, said the jury has to contend with 40 years of details and allegations.
“Oh it’s very challenging,” he said to News10NBC outside court. “People are testifying to something 40 years ago. And it’s very hard to remember an event decades earlier and what you’re doing is basically remembering your memory.”