Trial begins for man charged in slaying of 81-year-old Fredonia woman - The Buffalo News

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Trial begins for man charged in slaying of 81-year-old Fredonia woman

MAYVILLE – Both sides agree that Jason Wells caused the death of his elderly neighbor in Feburary 2010. The question for jurors is whether he was insane at the time.

Opening statements were given in the trial this morning. District Attorney David Foley said that 81-year-old Ruth Fisk had befriended Jason Wells who lived in an apartment above her in the apartment complex known as One Temple Square in Fredonia. Foley told the jury that Wells was seen with Fisk early on Feb. 5 and that he was driving her mini-van.

Foley told jurors that they would see a video of the actions that led to Ruth Fisk’s death. He said that the cause of death was “multiple blunt force and sharp force trauma as well as strangulation.”

Wells’ assigned counsel, Lyle Hajdu of Lakewood, told the jury that they will hear from professional witnesses who will talk about Wells’ diagnosis of “paranoid schizophrenia.”

“The defendant did not understand that what he did was wrong,” said Hajdu in his opening statement. “There is no question of who has done it,” he added. The attorney told the jurors that Wells spent nearly two years in a state psychiatric facility before being returned to Chautauqua County to stand trial.

The first two witnesses in the case were John Ramos, a close family friend to Fisk, and John Burse, the maintenance supervisor for the apartment complex.

Burse testified that he searched Fisk’s home after her friends could not reach her by phone.

Burse didn’t find her in her apartment so he went to Wells’ apartment. Burse asked Wells about a carpet in the apartment. Burse said Wells admitted to him that she was inside it. “I rolled back the edge and saw her shoe,” said Burse.

He said that Wells rolled more of the carpet back and revealed the body of the 81-year old woman inside the carpet.

The trial is expected to continue through next week with Judge John Ward presiding.

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