Judge to decide Friday if Bangor woman accused of killing husband competent to be tried

Posted Dec. 11, 2013, at 5:36 p.m.
Roxanne Jeskey sits in court during the closing argument of her competency hearing at the Penobscot Judicial Center in April 2013.
Roxanne Jeskey sits in court during the closing argument of her competency hearing at the Penobscot Judicial Center in April 2013. Buy Photo

BANGOR, Maine — A superior court justice said Wednesday that he will rule Friday on whether a local woman is competent to stand trial in the brutal slaying of her husband 2½ years ago.

Roxanne Jeskey, 50, of Bangor has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity 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.

Jeskey’s jury-waived trial before Justice E. Allen Hunter is scheduled to begin Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center.

Hunter held a competency hearing Tuesday and Wednesday at the Bangor courthouse. It was the second hearing held in the past year to determine whether Jeskey will be able to assist her attorneys during the trial.

A different judge found Jeskey competent in May after 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 10 years ago.

The same experts testified Tuesday and Wednesday. Experts called by the prosecution said Jeskey is competent. Those called by the defense said she is not.

Defense attorneys Joseph Baldacci and David Bate, both of Bangor, have argued that the combination of Jeskey’s short-term memory problems resulting from brain surgery and her chronic heart problems, coupled with her mental health diagnosis, which includes PTSD due to sexual abuse as a child, make it impossible for Jeskey to adequately assist them during a trial.

Both defense experts said Jeskey needs to be taking antipsychotic and antidepressant medication in order for her to assist her attorneys. Jeskey is on suicide watch at the jail, the experts said.

Baldacci urged Hunter to defer his ruling on competency and place Jeskey at Riverview Psychiatric Hospital in Augusta so she can be evaluated.

The judge also could find Jesky not competent to stand trial and commit her to Riverview until she can be restored to competency.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who is prosecuting the case with her colleague Deb Cashman, said that Jeskey meets the criteria for competency. She knows and understands the charges and the consequences of a conviction, the prosecutor said Wednesday.

“She has the ability to assist counsel, she simply chooses not to,” Zainea said. “She has consulted with her attorneys and talked with family members during this hearing.”

Zainea said the fact that Jeskey opposed her attorneys’ motion for a second competency hearing showed that she was able to make decisions about her defense.

The prosecutor also played portions of more than half a dozen phone calls Jeskey has made over the past six months from the Penobscot County Jail to relatives. In those conversations Jeskey complained that her attorneys were not visiting her often enough.

In an August call, Jeskey knew that her trial was to be held in December but that a date had not been set. She did not stutter or stammer in a Nov. 26 call to her sister as defense psychologist John Lorenz of Bangor said she did Nov. 4 when he interviewed her at the jail.

Jeskey has been held without bail since her arrest 10 days after her husband’s death.

She would face a sentence of between 25 years and life in prison if found competent to stand trial and convicted of murder.

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