ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Attorneys in the trial of James Krauseneck are trying to pinpoint when time-of-death was for Cathy Krauseneck in 1982 — a factor that will be crucial when the jury deliberates.
Defense attorney Bill Easton said it’s a “fatal challenge” that the original medical examiner in the case — Dr. Evelyn Lewis — is no longer alive to testify.
Instead, Dr. Michael Baden, a world-renowned forensic pathologist, testified and had a different outlook after interpreting the evidence.
Brighton police asked Baden to assist in the investigation in 2017, shortly before Krauseneck was arrested.
Dr. Baden testified that, in his opinion, the victim’s time of death happened before the defendant left for work. He lays out a timeframe between 9 p.m. the evening prior, to early morning hours before 6:30 a.m.
Dr. Baden bases his opinion on reports from the original autopsy; stiffness of the body, digestion in the stomach, and body temperature.
But, during cross-examination, Dr. Baden testified that his calculations and interpretations do differ from Dr. Lewis’s.
The defense argues that Dr. Lewis is the “best” perspective to determine the time of death.
“The best to make the facts, but interpretation is another matter,” said Baden, in response.
“His opinion is substantially different than Dr. Lewis’s,” Easton said. “His testimony pivots on body temperature. If you take body temperature out, his position is completely unfounded.”
“It’s by no means an exact science, I think Dr. Baden was clear on that,” said prosecutor Patrick Gallagher of the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office. “But Dr. Baden, in his experience, is familiar with how those factors [blankets, individual’s health, etc.] affect body temperature.”
The biggest challenge here, according to both sides?
Dr. Lewis is no longer alive to testify.
“We think it’s a fatal challenge,” said Easton. “Because if prosecution proceeded with this in a timely manner, Dr. Lewis would be here to defend her autopsy which is evidently defendable. And they waited 40 years, she’s dead now, and she can’t defend it, and then Baden comes in from out of town.”
“If the jury believes Dr. Baden’s testimony, which we believe he is a very credible witness, then that means that James Krauseneck killed his wife on that day,” said Gallagher in response. “Because he has stated, and multiple witnesses have said, that he was home until 6:30 a.m. then went to work at that time,” said Gallagher.
Baden is famed and world-renowned. He’s worked on many high-profile cases, ranging from Attica Prison Riots to Jeffrey Epstein and George Floyd. The defense says this is a distraction, while prosecution says it’s a worthy experience.
Prosecution rested its case on Thursday, and the defense will present and begin presenting its case on Friday. The defense said the trial could potentially go to the jury by the end of next week.
Also in court Thursday, were two FBI agents who investigated a written confession from Ed Laraby, in his prison cell. Laraby was a neighbor who lived around the corner from the Krauseneck’s at the time, and lived out the rest of his life in prison as a convicted murder.
It’s alleged he confessed to killing Cathy Krauseneck in a letter, but both prosecution and defense admit the letter has some holes.