MAYVILLE – Jurors were excused at 8 p.m. Friday after failing to reach a verdict in the second-degree murder trial of Jason Wells, who is charged with the brutal beating death in February 2010 of his Fredonia neighbor, Ruth Fisk, 81.
The jury had deliberated more than seven hours Friday after hearing closing arguments and getting instructions from Chautauqua County Judge John T. Ward. Deliberations of the 12-member panel will resume at 10 a.m. Monday.
For the family of Fisk, the trial has been a four-year wait for justice.
Wells’ competency to stand trial has long been an issue and, following behavioral problems during his stay in Chautauqua County Jail, he was admitted to the Central New York Psychiatric Hospital, where he was treated for almost two years until it was determined he was competent.
Wells, who was 37 at the time of the slaying, had reportedly been hospitalized several times for drug and alcohol and mental health issues. During the trial it was revealed that he received monthly Social Security disability benefits because of mental health issues.
Much of the trial focused on his mental stability – with testimony for the defense making the case that defendant was paranouid and sdchiphrenhic.
The grisly crime occurred at One Temple Square in Fredonia, an apartment facility for low-income residents, the disabled and senior citizens.
Evidence against Fisk was overwhelming. Prosecutors presented the majority of witnesses and introduced more than 100 items into evidence, including the chair where the victim sat as she was killed, the murder weapon, bloody clothes and even the carpet that hid Fisk’s body for two days.
Friday was the eighth day of trial proceedings.
Ward’s instructions included an explanation of the defense request to consider two outcomes: not-guilty by reason of mental defect or extreme emotional disturbance.
The judge also told jurors there may be other competency hearings for Wells. Since his return from the Central New York Psychiatric Facility in October 2013, he has been housed with the general population in Chautauqua County Jail.
Jurors asked to review the audiotape allegedly made by Wells as he savagely attacked the elderly woman. They also asked Ward for further definitions of emotional disturbance and an insanity defense.
Fisk died of multiple blunt-force and sharp-force trauma and strangulation.
A retired registered nurse, she worked for the Buffalo public library system for 13 years before moving to Dunkirk. At the age of 51, she went into nursing, working at Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk, beginning as a nurse’s aide, then as a registered nurse, until her retirement in 1993.