Defense opens its case in Brighton Ax Murder Trial
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Friday was a short day in the Brighton Ax Murder Trial of James Krauseneck. He’s accused of killing his wife in their home back in February of 1982. Only one witness took the stand as the Defense opened its case.
Erie County Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Katherine Maloney was called up to debunk many of the findings of famed New York City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Baden, who testified for the prosecution.
See our complete coverage of the Brighton Ax murder trial
- Day 1: 40 years ago Krauseneck looked “horrified”
- Day 3: James Krauseneck left town 24 hours after his wife was murdered in her bed
- Day 4: Sister of the victim initially didn’t think James Krauseneck did it. That’s changed
- Day 4: Cop who discovered the crime scene says “it’s haunted me for a long time”
- Day 6: The anonymous letter and the star witness
- Day 7: Famed Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Baden testifies for prosecution
- Day 8: Prosecution rests in Brighton Ax Murder Trial
- Day 9: Defense opens its case in Brighton Ax Murder Trial
Maloney took the stand and started to pick apart the results of Baden’s review of Cathy Krauseneck’s autopsy. It was originally written by Dr. Evelyn Lewis, who has since died. Baden disagreed with the time of Cathy’s death, saying she was dead before James Krauseneck claims he left home for work at 6:30 a.m.
Maloney believes her time of death timeline is far more accurate through her use of standard practices, according to Defense Attorney William Easton.
“She says the whole process is so rife with inaccuracy, but if you use that standard it’s as good as anything, and that takes you way beyond after 6:30,” said Easton.
Maloney says she was able to come up with an approximate time of death by focusing on Cathy’s body temperature of 81 degrees, hours after death. Maloney says going by the Spitz and Fisher Medicolegal Investigation of Death textbook used by most pathologists, under most circumstances at death the human body loses 1 1/2 to 2 degrees of body heat per hour. Far different from Baden’s 1 degree per hour.
“That’s a big difference from 1.5 to 1.0. That’s like a 33-percent reduction. That’s not insignificant. That will completely change the time of death as we’ve seen,” said Easton.
Maloney does not dispute that Cathy may have been killed before 6:30 a.m, but says it could’ve also happened hours later.
Easton said, “It’s based on the whole thing because body temperature is one component for the opinion, and then you got the body temperature, you got the rigor mortis, and when she got all of the factors, and using all of the factors she says that you can’t possibly give an opinion more precise, or accurate than that.”
Unlike Baden who relies on the gastric contents as an important factor when determining the time of death, Maloney testified that it doesn’t help much.
“She’s using that to get some information about the contents of the stomach, but in terms of indication of the time of death, it’s not scientifically reliable,” said Easton.
The trial resumes Monday at 10 a.m. The Defense is scheduled to call up two medical doctors. We will continue our coverage of this for you.