James Krauseneck found guilty in Brighton ax murder trial




  • In US
  • 2022-09-26 17:24:27Z
  • By Democrat and Chronicle

A jury on Monday found James Krauseneck Jr. guilty of the 1982 murder of his wife, Cathleen, who was killed with an ax blow to her head.

Cathleen "Cathy" Krauseneck, 29, was found dead in her bed in the Brighton home on Del Rio Drive on Feb. 19, 1982, with the ax embedded in her head. There were no signs of sexual assault, and police think she was killed while sleeping.

Among those in the courtroom for the verdict were members of Cathleen's family, including her 95-year-old father, Robert Schlosser.

"I wanted to live long enough to (see) it," he said after the verdict. "My wife passed away four years ago. She didn't make it."

"My mom and Cathy are here," Annet Schlosser, Cathy's sister, said in response.

Jury deliberations

A jury on Monday, Sept.
A jury on Monday, Sept.  

The jury deliberated much of Friday and only a few hours Monday morning before reaching a verdict.

Prosecutors maintained throughout the trial that there was no other possible suspect - a claim challenged by the defense - and the entirely circumstantial case pointed to James Krauseneck as the murderer.

The jury "came to that conclusion because there was no other conclusion in this case," Assistant District Attorney Patrick Gallagher, one of the prosecutors, said after the verdict.

Defense lawyers said after the verdict that they think they have legitimate grounds for an appeal. They unsuccessfully argued before the trial that the defense was hampered by the four decades since the homicide and the number of witnesses who had died and could not either help the defense or be strenuously cross-examined.

"We think the law's on our side and we're confident we're going to have a reversal," defense attorney Michael Wolford said.

40-year history of case

James Krauseneck left for his job at Eastman Kodak Co. around 6:30 a.m. and found his wife's corpse when he returned home at the workday's end. The couple's 3½-year-old daughter, Sara, had been in the home throughout the day.

There were signs of a burglary in the home, but police decided that the scene was possibly staged and nothing of value appeared stolen.

As decades passed, Brighton police and others investigated the case, and occasional leads and suspects, with nothing leading to an arrest. Cathleen Krauseneck's family, which first believed James was innocent of the homicide, grew more suspicious of him through those years.

In 2015, the Brighton police turned to a new law enforcement "cold case" collaborative that worked with the FBI to tackle unsolved cases. Physical evidence from the Brighton crime scene, including the ax, were sent to the FBI lab, and the FBI also digitized the voluminous paper investigative records into a searchable format.

While the analyses did not eliminate James Krauseneck as a suspect, there also was nothing that made a stronger case against him. However, prosecutors and police determined that the lack of evidence incriminating someone else, coupled with the suspicions of a staged burglary, made Krauseneck the leading suspect.

As well, longtime forensics pathologist Dr. Michael Baden reviewed autopsies and records from 1982 and determined Cathleen's time of death was likely before 6:30 a.m. That claim was roundly challenged during the trial, with other medical examiners saying the time could not be narrowed specifically before 6:30 a.m.

After the homicide, police learned that James Krauseneck did not complete his doctorate in college - his dissertation was not accepted - but he went onto a teaching job at Lynchburg (Virginia) College and then Eastman Kodak Co. in Rochester as an economist, partly relying on claims that he did have his doctoral degree.

Before Cathleen's death, Kodak officials had learned of his failure to complete his doctorate. Prosecutors portrayed this as an issue that could have led to discord for the couple, and noted there was a pamphlet for marriage counseling in the family car.

Defense lawyers have said it's quite a stretch to think this issue could prompt a murder, and that the pamphlet advertised other services as well as marriage counseling.

As well, Krauseneck's defense maintained that the Brighton police ignored a viable suspect, Edward Laraby, who committed multiple violent sexual assaults during his life.

Before dying in prison in 2014, Laraby made admissions to multiple crimes. Police believe he did kill Stephanie Kupchynsky, a Greece music teacher murdered in 1991. His details to that crime were specific and included facts that could only have been known to the killer. The other crimes he alleged to have committed were attempts to secure medical treatment outside of prison, police say, and were vastly off on details.

The defense says that Brighton police were alerted to Laraby in 1982 and did very little if anything to determine his whereabouts the morning of the murder. His details were likely askew in his confession because of the passage of time and his deteriorating health, defense lawyers say.

(This is a developing story. Return to democratandchronicle.com for updates.)

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: James Krauseneck found guilty in Brighton ax murder trial

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