Bangor woman found competent to stand trial for allegedly slaying husband in bathtub; defense to appeal

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted May 08, 2013, at 11:35 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A local woman accused of brutally slaying her husband in the couple’s bathtub in June 2011 is competent to stand trial, a Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday, but the defense team is appealing the decision.

Justice Ann Murray also ordered that Roxanne Jeskey, 49, of Bangor be committed to Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta “for psychiatric observation, evaluation and ongoing assessment of competency pending trial.”

Jeskey’s attorneys late Wednesday afternoon filed a notice that they would appeal Murray’s ruling to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. That could delay her trial, set to begin June 24, for up to a year.

“There is completely insufficient evidence to support such a finding of competence,” Joseph Baldacci of Bangor said in a statement attached to the notice of appeal. “There can be no fair trial without the resolution of this issue.”

Baldacci also said that he was unaware of any other recent case in which a judge had found a defendant competent but committed that person to a psychiatric hospital.

It was unclear late Wednesday how an appeal would affect Murray’s order to transfer Jeskey from the Penobscot County Jail to Riverview.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who is prosecuting the case, declined Wednesday morning to comment on the decision. Efforts to reach the prosecutor after the notice to appeal was filed were unsuccessful.

It is the practice of the Maine attorney general’s office not to comment on pending cases.

J eskey has pleaded not guilty to intentional or knowing murder and depraved indifference murder in the death of her husband, Richard Jeskey, 53, in their Ohio Street apartment. His naked and bloody body was found June 13, 2011. He was beaten and strangled, according to autopsy results.

Murray issued her decision after a four-day competency hearing held last month. Four expert witnesses — two for the prosecution and two for the defense — gave conflicting opinions concerning whether Jeskey could assist her attorneys at trial. All agreed that Jeskey’s memory and cognitive skills have been impaired by the removal of a brain tumor in 2004.

The judge said that she based her ruling not only on the experts’ opinions but on her own observations of the defendant over the course of the hearing. Murray wrote that Jeskey “appeared to be paying attention throughout the proceedings and she did not appear to be distracted.”

“Jeskey interacted with defense counsel, and sometimes her interactions were followed by a request for a break,” the judge said. “When she appeared in distress she turned to her attorneys. Ms. Jeskey made eye contact with the court frequently and appropriately during the multi-day hearing.”

Murray also cited how Jeskey was able to recall the name of Joseph Baldacci, one of two Bangor attorneys representing her, as a sign of her competence to stand trial.

“A striking display of [Jeskey’s] cognitive abilities was [her] ability to remember that one her attorneys has the same last name as a former governor, and using this memory-aiding mechanism, Ms. Jeskey was eventually able to remember attorney Baldacci’s name. This is another indication that Ms. Jeskey has memory and reasoning capabilities.”

Joseph Baldacci is the younger brother of former Gov. John Baldacci.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/05/08/news/bangor/bangor-woman-found-competent-to-stand-trial-for-allegedly-slaying-husband-in-bathtub/ printed on August 28, 2014