Kaitlyn Conley Appeal To Be Heard on Wednesday
It's been nearly three years since the sentencing of Sauquoit's Kaitlyn Conley, who was found guilty of manslaughter in the poisoning death of her boss back in 2015. Now, on Wednesday afternoon, New York's Appellate Division of Supreme Court, Fourth Judicial Department, will hear Conley's appeal.
Conley was sentenced on January 11, 2018 to 23-years in prison for the death of Dr. Mary Yoder, 60, of Whitesboro, a Utica area chiropractor and Conley's boss at the time. The victim was also the mother of Conley's ex-boyfriend. Toxicology reports show Yoder died of cholchicine poisoning.
Her first trial ended in a hung jury in May of 2017. At the second trial, Judge Michael Dwyer told the jury they could consider a lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter. When a juror reported to Dwyer that they were still undecided, he sent them back to continue deliberation.
Conley was later convicted of the manslaughter charge.
Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara told WIBX's Keeler Show on Tuesday that nothing about the appeal makes him nervous. He said he's confident that Conley was correctly found guilty and the Appellate court will uphold the decision. The appeal is being handled by Conley's attorney in her first trial, Christopher Pelli. McNamara said he would expect a decision on the appeal to come down sometime in January.
The Conley appeal is based on eight arguments, according to McNamara.
1. The court shouldn't have given the jury the option of the lesser included offense of first-degree manslaughter
2. The conviction wasn't supported by the evidence given at the trial
3. The poisoning of Adam (Yoder's son and Conley's ex-boyfriend) should not have been entered into evidence during the trial. This was not part of evidence in the first trial. When Conley's second trial attorney Frank Pollicelli pointed to Adam Yoder as the potential killer, he brought into court the fact that prior to Mary Yoder's death, Adam had suffered a sickness with symptoms similar to those caused by cholchicine poisoning.The prosecution then used that evidence against Conley, insinuating that she poisoned her ex-boyfriend, as well.
4. Prosecutorial misconduct
5. Ineffective assistance of counsel
6. The judge was not fair
7. Punishment is harsh and excessive
8. The evidence of the first trial wasn't legally sufficient
Policelli, who will appear on WIBX's Keeler Show on Wednesday morning, told WIBX that he wants to defend himself on the argument of ineffective counsel. "Don't forget that Kaitlyn was on trial for murder and I successfully defended her against that charge," said Pollicelli.
McNamara said he felt Pollicelli presented an effective case, "it just wasn't successful." "He did open the door for us to get into the poisoning of Adam, which Pelli was successful in keeping that out of the first trial because of a different theory," he said. McNamara said that Pollicelli is a competent attorney. "Frank Pollicelli has tried numerous murder cases and has been successful on a few," he added. He said it's unclear how the Appellate Court will view that evidence and the argument.
Pelli will get the chance to defend his case at the Appellate Division Wednesday afternoon in Rochester and the proceeding will be live-streamed from this link. In the Appellate Division, both parties submit their arguments in advance to the court. Wednesday's appearance will almost certainly be brief, usually about 15 minutes, as the attorneys present their oral arguments and the panel of judges will have the opportunity to ask questions. Wednesday's proceeding will be done virtually.
Community Support and National Exposure
Conley's family and friends and some members of the Yoder family who have supported Conley's innocence started a Free Kaitlyn Conley Facebook Page and on Monday, released a statement in support of the appeal.
Finally. This day has been over three years in the making, since she was wrongly convicted. It’s been a journey, that is for sure. We are so thankful for her current appeals lawyers who have been working diligently on her case and who will argue in front of the Fourth Department of the Supreme Court Appellate Division.
Please send any and all positive prayers, vibes, and wishes to her way, as well as to her lawyers, on Wednesday. Keep them coming over the next few months as we wait for their decision, too! It’s not a quick process but we are all feeling optimistic about the success of her case and that she will finally be home soon.
One step closer to justice for Katie and Mary! -Facebook
The case of Kaitlyn Conley and Mary Yoder received national attention, when three years ago, NBC's Dateline spent an entire hour on the case. Watch a trailer from the episode titled, Poisoned.
Meanwhile back in October of this year, True Crime focused their television program on the split in the Yoder family over whether or not Conley committed the murder. See the episode below.
In November of 2017, WIBX's Keeler Show spoke with Dr. Mary Yoder's nephew David King and Kaitlyn Conley's three sisters Shannon, Sarah and Siobhan. They each have contested that Conley is innocent. Watch the interview below.