Roxanne Jeskey won’t take the stand in her murder trial, lawyer tells judge

Roxanne Jeskey
Linda Coan O'Kresik
Roxanne Jeskey Buy Photo
Posted Jan. 06, 2014, at 1:40 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 06, 2014, at 4:59 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Roxanne Jeskey, on trial at the Penobscot Judicial Center for killing her husband 2 1/2 years ago, will not testify in her own defense, her attorney Joseph Baldacci of Bangor told Superior Court Justice E. Allen Hunter on Monday.

The defense rested its case after Baldacci said that Jeskey waived her right to take the stand.

Hunter asked Jeskey if she wanted to take the stand. She shook her head no. In a barely audible voice, Jeskey said she understood she had a right to testify in her own defense but was not required to do so.

The jury-waived trial is expected to conclude Tuesday with rebuttal witnesses for the prosecution. At least one expert is expected to testify that Jeskey knew right from wrong when she brutally killed her husband.

Attorneys will not make oral closing arguments but will instead submit written closing arguments, Baldacci and Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who is prosecuting the case, said after the trial recessed Monday afternoon. Hunter will issue a written decision at the end of January, Baldacci said.

Jeskey, 50, of Bangor is charged with intentional or knowing murder and depraved indifference murder in the death of her husband. She has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Richard Jeskey’s naked and bloody body was discovered June 13, 2011. A broken cellphone was found on his chest. He was beaten and strangled, according to the autopsy.

A Portland neuropsychologist who testified earlier that Roxanne Jeskey was not competent to stand trial for killing her husband testified Monday morning that Jeskey did not know right from wrong the night Richard Jeskey, 53, of Bangor died.

That is the standard Hunter must use to determine whether Jeskey is not guilty by reason of insanity or she knowingly committed murder.

Richard Doiron, the only witness to testify for the defense, said that three factors made it impossible for the defendant to appreciate the wrongfulness of her actions on June 12, 2011, the night the prosecution said Jeskey killed her husband. Those factors include her cognitive difficulties that are the result of surgery to remove a brain tumor 10 years ago; the mental illness she suffers from; and post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a result of the sexual abuse she suffered as a young child at the hands of her stepfather.

Doiron said Monday that Jeskey could have lost her ability to think reflectively and perceive accurately what was happening the night her husband died.

“The thinking brain was not working, and the animal brain was in operation,” he said.

Doiron admitted under cross-examination by Zainea that Jeskey was able to perform everyday activities such as care for herself, drive a car, babysit her grandchildren and communicate with her physicians. Doiron also conceded that Jeskey had rational conversations with a neighbor and her husband’s boss the night she allegedly killed Richard Jeskey.

“So the only time she didn’t know right from wrong was during the incident involving her husband?” Zainea asked.

“She suffered from a dissociative state that impaired her judgment,” the neuropsychologist replied.

Roxanne Jeskey’s trial began Dec. 16. The state rested Dec. 19, and the defense began its presentation Monday. The trial was recessed over the holidays.

Defense attorneys Baldacci and David Bate had said Jeskey might take the stand but that turned out not to be the case.

Jeskey faces between 25 years and life in prison if convicted of murder. If found not guilty by reason of insanity, she would be committed to Riverview Psychiatric Hospital in Augusta until the staff deemed her no longer a danger to the community.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.

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