BANGOR, Maine — The attorneys for a local woman convicted of murdering her husband three years ago in the bathroom of their Ohio Street apartment have filed a motion seeking a new trial arguing that Roxanne Jesky was “psychotic” during her jury-waived trial.
Superior Court Justice E. Allen Hunter found Jeskey, 50, guilty of both intentional and knowing murder and depraved indifference murder in connection with the death of her 53-year-old husband, Richard “Rick” Jeskey, on June 12 or 13, 2011.
Hunter announced his verdict May 30. He rejected Jeskey’s insanity plea and a defense theory that she acted in self-defense.
Bangor attorneys Joseph Baldacci and David Bate filed their motion late Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Jeskey, whose trial was held in December and January, was found competent to stand trial twice by Hunter and Superior Court Justice Ann Murray in the months leading up to the trial. Murray, who later recused herself from the case, ordered in May 2013 that Jeskey be committed to Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta “for psychiatric observation, evaluation and ongoing assessment of competency pending trial.”
That never happened. Baldacci said last year the transfer never happened for two reasons: No judge had ever issued such an order, so there was no precedent for it; and MaineCare refused to pay for Jeskey’s care, so Riverview refused to accept her.
Counsel “were required to represent Ms. Jeskey at a murder trial while she was actively experiencing untreated psychotic disorders, making it impossible to meaningfully prepare or advise her regarding her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination,” the motion for a new trial said.
Bate and Baldacci on Jan. 2 told Hunter that both lawyers had witnessed Jeskey have psychotic breaks with reality and said she needed to be examined by a psychiatrist and placed on medication. They also said she would not take the stand in her own defense.
“While waiting five months for the court’s verdict and having made repeated requests for antipsychotic medication during trial and hearings in this matter and later with the [Penobscot County] Sheriff’s Department, Ms. Jeskey finally was put back on Seroquel, an antipsychotic medication,” the motion said. “The change in her demeanor and presentation was noticeable to counsel, Ms. Jeskey’s family, the press and the public. This supports Justice Murray’s original order on competence requiring that Ms. Jeskey go to Riverview to ‘bolster her competence.’ Ms. Jeskey clearly would have benefitted from antipsychotic medication during her trial.”
Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who prosecuted the case, said Wednesday in an email that she has not received a copy of the motion but will oppose it.
In his 31-page written verdict, Hunter focused on the brutality of the slaying.
Richard Jeskey suffered extensive multiple blunt and sharp force injuries to the head, neck, torso limbs and genitalia, Dr. Michael Ferenc, a former medical examiner who now works in Arizona, said in the autopsy report. He also was strangled with sufficient force to break the hyoid bone of his neck, Ferenc testified last year.
The hyoid bone is the bone at the top of the neck under the chin.
The judge concluded that the injuries were inflicted with a plastic baseball bat, razor, wooden and metal rods from broken towel racks, a pair of needle-nosed pliers and perhaps other implements.
“Any one of these injuries standing alone manifests a depraved indifference to the value of human life,” Hunter said. “Taken together, they reflect a monstrous savagery and cruelty that defies comprehension.”
Baldacci and Bate said after the verdict was announced that they would appeal Jeskey’s conviction to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court after her sentencing.
A date for a hearing on the motion for a new trial is not expected to be set until after the prosecution files its response.
A sentencing date has not been set. Judges often hold hearings on new trial motions just before sentencing.