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Man Accused Of Killing Wife With An Ax To The Head In 1982 Faces Trial Next August

State Supreme Court Justice Charles Schiano Jr. set James Krauseneck Jr.'s trial date as Aug. 29, 2022.

By Jill Sederstrom

An upstate New York man is expected to go to trial next year — 40 years after his wife was killed with a single ax blow to the head in the couple’s home outside of Rochester.

State Supreme Court Justice Charles Schiano Jr. set a trial date for James Krauseneck Jr. on Thursday for Aug. 29, 2022, denying the defense’s request to dismiss the murder charges, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.

James is accused of killing his 29-year-old wife Cathleen Krauseneck at their Brighton home on Feb. 19, 1982, then leaving his 3-year-old daughter alone with his wife's dead body while he went work at Eastman Kodak, where he was employed as an economist.

James Krauseneck Pd

Krauseneck — who has continually insisted that he didn’t kill his wife — told authorities that he arrived home around 5 p.m., then rushed inside after finding the garage door open. Then, he's said, he discovered his wife dead in the their bed with an ax still lodged in her head, People reports.

James told police that he found his daughter unharmed in another bedroom, scooped her up and rushed to a neighbor’s house to get help.

For decades the case remained unsolved. In November 2019, a jury indicted James for the murder after investigators said they found no forensic evidence that anyone else had ever been in the couple’s home.

Krauseneck’s attorneys had hoped to challenge the forensics used in the case during a Frye hearing, which would have forced prosecutors to prove that the scientific evidence they planned to present was based on a theory "sufficiently established to have gained general acceptance in the particular field in which it belongs." Schiano declined that request Thursday, determining that the methods used in the case were accepted methods of science.

Schiano explained that he is hoping the trial can proceed as soon as possible, because some of the surviving witnesses are increasing elderly, making it necessary to give them an opportunity to testify in the case, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.

For instance, the victim’s father, Robert Schlosser, is 94 years old and has traveled to New York from Michigan for past hearings on the case, which has been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schiano, however, selected the August date because it was the first opportunity that would accommodate the likely month-long trial.  

Krauseneck’s defense attorneys have argued that the lengthy time since the crime occurred has posed problems for the defense, since some of the witnesses they planned to call in the case have died.

However, Schiano ruled that the evidentiary testimony from the witnesses before their death could still be used at trial and suggested it could even help the defense because those witnesses will now not have to face cross-examination by prosecutors.

The defense has contended that a more probable suspect in Cathleen Krauseneck’s murder should be sex offender Ed Laraby, who lived near the family’s home in 1982 and died in prison in 2014 after being charged with another murder that he confessed to committing.

Laraby allegedly confessed to killing Cathleen as well — but authorities have said they are confident he was not the killer. Laraby, they have pointed out, also confessed to killing people who were still alive.

The statements made by Laraby, however, will be allowed in court, Schiano ruled.

“It’s a weak case,” Krauseneck’s defense attorney William Easton previously told People. “It’s emotional and it’s gruesome, but you strip it down…that’s why they didn’t proceed for 40 years. It wasn’t because of lack of trying.”