Husband Of Woman Killed In 40-Year-Old Axe Murder Case Found Guilty

Picture shows a machete and a long-handled axe, found by French gendarmes during a second eviction of environmental protesters from the area, known as ZAD (Zone a Defendre - Zone to defend) at the site of an abandoned airport project near the western city of Nantes, in Notre-Dame-des-Landes on May 17, 2018. GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP via Getty Images

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Trevor Schakohl Legal Reporter
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A New York man was found guilty Monday of murdering his wife in 1982, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, an incident that lent inspiration to a novel adapted into Netflix movie released last year.

The jury convicted James Krauseneck Jr. of second-degree murder in Cathy Krauseneck’s killing at their Brighton, New York, residence, the outlet reported. He was only indicted in 2019, according to court documents obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

James Krauseneck said he returned home from work Feb. 19, 1982 to find his wife in bed struck with an axe and his young daughter looking dazed in another room, according to court documents. The case partially inspired Elizabeth Brundage’s 2016 book “All Things Cease To Appear,” the basis for the 2021 Netflix film “Things Heard & Seen,” The New York Post reported.

When the case was first investigated in 1982, a local pathologist estimated Cathy Krauseneck died between 1:55 a.m and 8:55 a.m, while James Krauseneck said he left the house at about 6:30 to 6:35 a.m, court documents show. Former Rochester District Attorney Howard Relin testified in June 2021 that her undetermined time of death circumvented the investigation and “would have been critical to present to a grand jury.” (RELATED: 43-Time Felon Charged With Woman’s Murder While Out On Bond)

Now-deceased convicted murderer and rapist Edward Laraby claimed he was the one who killed Cathy Krauseneck, defense documents for James Krauseneck said, but Laraby incorrectly reported some details and wasn’t considered a reliable suspect. James Krauseneck was arrested after former New York City Chief Medical Examiner Michael Baden testified in 2019 that recorded information about her body indicated she died before 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 19, giving him time to kill her.

James Krauseneck’s attorney William Easton said Baden’s opinion “wasn’t based on anything new,” the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

“He just looked at this evidence that was from 1982 and using no new methodology (said), ‘I think the time of death is before 6:30’ and pushed it back,” Easton argued. “No other medical examiner that we’ve talked to was able to do that.”

Cathy Krauseneck’s family had become increasingly suspicious of James as years advanced with no arrests being made after initially thinking he was innocent, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. His sentencing date was set for Nov. 7, the outlet’s reporter Gary Craig reported.

“We plan to appeal and we are very confident that the conviction will be set aside on the grounds that he was denied due process as a result of the 37 year delay in bringing the indictment in 2019,” Krauseneck defense attorney Michael Wolford told the DCNF. “The judge denied our motion to dismiss but we are confident that the Appellate Court will reverse and dismiss the indictment.”

Madeline Dovi contributed to this report.

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