“I did not murder Cathy” James Krauseneck pleads innocence before he gets life in prison for the Brighton Ax Murder

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – James Krauseneck stood up and said he did not kill his wife Cathy. And then he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

It took 40 years to get to this moment in the Brighton Ax Murder case. After a month long trial in September, a jury found that, in February 1982, Cathy Krauseneck was killed by her husband James with one swing of an ax.

Prior to his sentencing, Krauseneck was given the opportunity to speak. He didn’t testify at his trial. He said his wife Cathy was the love of his life and he is still haunted by her murder inside their home.

“She was more than my wife and more than Sara’s mother. She was my one and only love, my best friend and my partner for life” he said. “In closing, I did not murder Cathy. I love Cathy with all my heart and with all my soul. I continue to be haunted at why, and who, would have murdered such a beautiful person.”

See our complete coverage of the Brighton Ax murder trial

Then Supreme Court Justice Charles Schiano spoke.

“My thinking is you’ve been able to live your life for the last 40 years without any restrictions. You’ve had the enjoyment of life. Cathy, since February 19, 1982, did not have the opportunity to enjoy life. With her family, with her friends, with her daughter,” Judge Schiano said. “I think the only just sentence in this matter is a sentence of 25 years in the department of corrections to life.”

Cathy Krauseneck was killed in her bed, inside her home on Del Rio Drive, by a blow from an ax. After weeks of testimony, including new evidence which changed the potential time of death, putting it during a time when James Krauseneck was home, the jury convicted Krauseneck of murder.

Krauseneck said he was at work at Kodak at the time. The prosecution said the house was set up to look like Cathy was killed during a botched burglary.

“James Krauseneck stole 40 years of freedom. He kept this community wondering for the last 40 years who is the Brighton ax murderer? Is he still out there?” prosecutor Pat Gallagher said. “Well, now the world knows James Krauseneck is the Brighton ax murderer.”

“Every day my heart aches when I think about Sara in that house all day and alone,” James Krauseneck said in court Monday. “The loss of Cathy, plus the responsibility of raising Sara overwhelmed me. I missed Cathy so much, I still do.”

Krauseneck’s daughter Sara has always stood by her father and believes he didn’t kill her mom. She said her dad was burdened by the presumption of guilt.

“My dad never once lashed out at me in anger. He never raised a hand to me. In fact it was weird for him to yell at all,” Sara said. “The justice system has failed my parents, myself and both sides of my family.”

Many members of Cathy Krauseneck’s family attended the trial every day, including her father who is in his 90’s.

“We still love you Sara and always will,” her grandfather and Cathy’s father Robert Schlosser said. “And Jim, I hope you live to be 100 years old and enjoy your new home.”

Krauseneck’s lawyer said he has no doubt the conviction will be overturned on appeal.