James Krauseneck Jr., the 71-year-old New York man convicted of killing his wife with a single ax to the head more than 40 years ago, died in prison while appealing of his conviction.
Krauseneck’s death comes just months after a Monroe County jury in September 2022 found him guilty of one count of second-degree murder in the 1982 murder of 29-year-old Cathleen Krauseneck.
However, because Krauseneck had already begun to appeal his conviction and will not be able to complete the appeal process, his indictment and conviction for the murder of Cathleen Krauseneck will be vacated under state law, a common legal principle known as “ab initio reduction”. ”
Michael Wolford, Krauseneck’s defense attorney, reportedly confirmed to Rochester ABC affiliate WHAM-TV that Krauseneck was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in prison, which led to drastic weight loss and eventually caused his death.
“I was satisfied that he was innocent on March 1, 1982, a few days after this murder, when I first met Jim and discussed this matter with him, so my opinion has no changed one iota, and I feel very badly ended this way,” Wolford reportedly told the station.
Wolford also told WHAM that he believed Krauseneck’s conviction would have been overturned on appeal.
“I’m sure the Appeal Division would have overturned the conviction for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that there was no justification for waiting 37 years to file an indictment,” Wolford reportedly said.
Wolford did not immediately respond to a message from Law&Crime seeking additional comment on his client’s death.
The victim’s sister reportedly felt that Krauseneck got what he deserved.
“Even though Jim did not serve his full sentence, we believe karma was done when he died an undignified death behind prison walls,” Cathleen’s sister Annet Schlosser reportedly said. Krauseneck, at the Democrat & Chronicle. “The whole world knows he killed my sister, and he died knowing it.”
Krauseneck, a former Lynchburg College economics professor, was arrested in 2019 and charged with murder nearly 37 years after his wife died. At the time Brighton Police Chief David Catholdi said after thousands of hours of investigation detectives had found no evidence anyone else was in the house at the time of Cathleen’s death, except for the accused and their young daughter.
“No other physical evidence at the scene, including DNA, points to anyone other than James Krauseneck, Jr.,” Catholdi said during Krauseneck’s arrest. “What we didn’t find was any evidence that anyone else was in that house.”
Brighton Police Department officers responded to a 911 call on Feb. 19, 1982, at a house on Del Rio Drive, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release after Krauseneck’s arrest. Inside, police found Cathleen’s lifeless body in the bed she shared with her husband.
“Cathleen was killed with an ax to the head while she slept,” the statement read.
The couple are said to have moved into the house around six months at the time of Cathleen’s death. They reportedly argued over Cathleen’s recent discovery that Krauseneck had not completed his doctorate as he had represented when he worked at Kodak.
Krauseneck maintained that she was alive when he left for work that morning, and he discovered her body when he returned from work.
The murder became known as the “Brighton Ax Murder” and inspired a 2021 Netflix horror film.
Following his conviction for the murder of his wife, Judge Charles Schiano Jr. attacked Krauseneck during his sentencing hearing, saying the outcome of the case was proper and that he had “no lost sleep” because of the guilty verdict.
Referring to photographs of the victim presented by prosecutors, Schiano said the murder was “heinous, brutal and unimaginable”.
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