James Krauseneck found guilty of killing his wife 40 years ago

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The jury in the Brighton Ax Murder Case voted unanimously to convict James Krauseneck. He killed his wife Cathy with an ax as she slept back in 1982. This verdict finally gives closure to loves ones, decades later.

News10NBC was in the courtroom when the verdict was read. Krauseneck is now headed to prison after 40 years of claiming someone else killed his wife. The was jury not buying his claim of innocence.

“We did it. We did it. Justice for Cathy,” said Annet Schlosser as she left the courtroom after waiting 40 years to say these words. Her sister Cathy’s murder was solved. The verdict was read, “James Krauseneck, charged with the crime of murder, in the second degree, as the only count in the indictment, guilty.”

Krauseneck barely showed any emotions, but his current wife Sharon and his daughter with Cathy, Sara Krauseneck, cried openly before Krauseneck was taken away in handcuffs.

Annet Schlosser added, “May my family finally be able to heal. This has affected us for 40 years, that we have been dealing with pain and anguish over this man, and we saw him walk away in handcuffs today, and that’s what we wanted.”

“We got our justice. For 40 years. Thank god we’ve got it,” said their father Robert Schlosser.

From the very beginning Krauseneck said his wife was alive when he left their home in Brighton at 6:30 in the morning, for his job at Kodak. He claims someone broke in, and killed Cathy with an ax as she slept. Sara, who was only 3 years old at the time, was the only other person in the home that day. Before the verdict Annet, and her niece Sara, spoke to each other for the first time in years.

“I told her when I walked in you heard me, I said Sara I love you no matter what happens, and she said thank you, and now we pray that Sara will come back to us, and be part of us, because she has no family now,” said Schlosser.

See our complete coverage of the Brighton Ax murder trial

Krauseneck’s attorneys say this isn’t over just yet for Krauseneck, as they plan to appeal.

“We believe that there was no justification for waiting 37 years for this indictment. We think the law is on our side, and we’re confident we’re going to have a reversal of this conviction,” said Defense Attorney Michael Wolford.

Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Gallagher applauded the jury for their decision.

“We believe the jury looked at the evidence, and obviously came to the same conclusion, because there no other conclusions to come to in this case,” said Gallagher.

Krauseneck is scheduled to be sentenced on November 7th.

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In 1982, James Krauseneck was an economist at Kodak during the time of the murder. He, his wife, and their 3-year-old girl lived together in the home on Del Rio Drive.

The DAs office tried to convince the jury this was a domestic murder set up to look like a burglary.

“This is not what a burglary looks like,” prosecutor Pat Gallagher said. “There’s nothing missing. Not only does it not look like anybody looked for anything, but there’s nothing taken. What kind of burglar doesn’t take the jewelry and money that is sitting out in the open?”

The defense tied to convince the jury that Krauseneck had no reason to kill his wife.

“What is the motive for Jim Krauseneck to do this, to put an ax in his wife’s head?” defense lawyer Bill Easton asked the jury. “There is no motive.”

The DAs office said part of the motive is that Krauseneck lied about having a Ph.D. on his resume to get his job at Kodak and that Kodak was uncovering the problem.

The defense said the number one suspect should have been a known rapist named Edward Laraby who, in 1982, lived about a mile away from the Krauseneck home. About a decade ago, Laraby made an error-filled confession to the Krauseneck murder. The defense blames the errors on heavy medication for ALS and the passage of time.

Brighton Police were alerted to Laraby in 1982 but one investigator testified they “never got a viable tip or suspect” in the case.

Laraby died in prison a few years ago.

Near the end of his closing statement, Easton of the defense told the jury, “here we are, 40 years later, asked to solve this crime.” Then he posed the questions—who did it and what happened?

“That question remains unanswered. It was unanswered 40 years ago and it remains unanswered now,” Easton said. “There is no direct evidence. That was the case 40 years ago and that’s the case now.”

Gallagher of the prosecution asked the jury to use common sense and reasoning and if they do the case will make sense to them.

“On February 19, 1982, James Krauseneck went to his garage, he grabbed his ax that he had used over and over to chop wood. He walked up his stairs into his bedroom where he knew his wife was sleeping,” Gallagher told the jurors. And then showing the crime scene photo to the jury Gallagher said “I’m really sorry that James Krauseneck had to sit in that uncomfortable chair for the last four weeks. But I think Cathy got it a little worse.”

One of the biggest questions in the trial was the time of death for Cathy. James said he was at work when his wife was murdered. The prosecution said the evidence shows that James was at home.

Famed New York City Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Baden testified for the prosecution. He said the evidence suggests that Cathleen was dead before her husband left for work. That conclusion is different from the doctor who wrote the autopsy report, Evelyn Lewis, who has since died.

Dr. Katherine Maloney, the deputy chief medical examiner at Erie County, testified for the defense on Friday. She believes that evidence points Cathy’s time of death to around 6:30 a.m., when her husband was at work.

In the trial, there was also testimony that James left town within 24 hours of his wife’s death. On day one of testimony, jurors heard the 911 that led police to the murder on Del Rio Drive.

Cathy’s sister said she initially did not think James had anything to do with the murder. She said she changed her mind changed when James cut off communication with her family.

The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office re-activated the murder case in 2016. James Krauseneck was arrested in 2019. The district attorney said James killed his wife and then set up the house to look like she was killed during a burglary.