2017-02-02 / Front Page

Desilets found not guilty

By Rebecca Humphrey


Roger Desilets in court last week. 
Patricia Roy photo Roger Desilets in court last week. Patricia Roy photo Following a nine day trial and two-anda half days of deliberation, a jury found Princeton dentist Roger Desilets not guilty of manslaughter in the death of his wife of 44 years, Kathleen Desilets.

On Tuesday, the jury also acquitted Desilets of asault and battery charges.

Kathleen, 65, died shortly after being found below a broken window at the couple’s home on Dec. 6, 2011.

Monday morning, Desilets’ attorneys filed a motion arguing that multiple statements the prosecution made in its closing argument were inaccurate and unfair. Their request for these statements to either be stricken from the record or call for a mistrial was denied by Judge Janet Kenton-Walker.

While prosecutors said she was thrown out of the window, the defense said she broke the window with a chair after an argument then jumped and/or fell of her own volition.

Desilets broke his wife’s heart twice, Assistant District Attorney John E. Bradley Jr. said in closing remarks on Friday morning to the jury. The first heartbreak was figurative, he said, referencing when Kathleen found out about her husband’s long-term infidelity in August of 2011. And the second time, Bradley said, was “literally in December of 2011, when he forced her out that window and she plunged to her death, tearing her heart open and causing her to bleed to death internally."

Bradley insisted that blood spots in the third floor bathroom and hallway of the couple’s home reveal Desilets assaulted his wife before breaking the third story window himself, picking her up by the arms, and shoving her through the broken window.

“He’s got her by the arms and the elbow and rushes her over to the window,” Bradley told the jury. “She’s backpedaling, he’s forcing her. Shes losing balance and ultimately she ends up in the window itself.”

He also pointed out that the couple had a housekeeper. “Do you honestly think all that blood in all those different locations was sitting around for a long period of time?” he asked the jury.

Bradley then showed jury members a photograph of the room and pointed out a foot path in the carpet leading straight to the window. He also noted blood spots on the bottom of the frame and “critically” on the top right exterior of the window. Bradley said Kathleen was doing whatever she could to save herself, and alleged that while falling backwards she cut the back of her hands and landed outside on her buttocks and heels.

The theory that 117-pound Kathleen picked up the chair on her own was “absurd,” to Bradley. “Consider who she was,” he said to the jury, recalling that after learning of her husband’s long-term affair she — a problem solver who had insisted that Desilets sign a post-nup prior to the incident — was moving on.

He also added that Kathleen had bags packed to visit her daughter the next day and had already made a number of holiday plans with family.

“The defendant couldn’t deal with it,” Bradley told the jury.

In November of 2011, Desilets hired a private investigator to track his wife because he believed she was having an affair, said Bradley. According to what Desilets revealed to officials about the night she died, Kathleen found phone records obtained by the private investigator who was tracking her which fueled an argument between the couple earlier in the night.

After settling their argument, Desilets told officials that the couple had a drink, then proceeded to have marital relations. Desilets said he then made an insensitive comment to his wife, which sent her upstairs to the third floor bedroom where she then started swinging the chair at the window while naked.

Bradley said that Desilets’ story was “all over the board” and “ridiculous,” and cited multiple versions of the defendant’s recollections that he shared with family, friends, and officials on the scene of his wife’s death ranging from “she jumped,” to being downstairs and hearing her fall, to witnessing the act with the chair. “If this was some unfortunate tragedy wouldn't you think there would only be one version?” he asked the jury.

Phone records indicate that Desilets called his private investigator at 1:40 a.m., then the home phone, and Kathleen’s cell phone. “If he is supposedly with her in bed why is he calling the home phone and why is he calling the cell phone?” said Bradley. “For whatever reason I suggest he is trying to locate all the phones in the house and the reason he is trying to do that is because Kathy has already gone out the window....I suggest to you that Kathy Desilets was outside of that house for almost an hour.”

Desilets called 411 instead of 911 at 2:45 p.m. Bradley played the call, which was transferred to 911, for the jury.

“He sounds calm and cool and collected. He may has well have been calling in for a pizza,” said Bradley of the call. “This is supposed to be literally a minute or two after his wife goes out the window.”

Within four minutes of the call, a state trooper arrived on the scene and “by the time [the emergency responder] gets there, Kathy has already been covered with coats and the defendant is fully dressed. He even has a belt on,” said Bradley who described Desilets’ appearance at the hospital as “neat as a pin.”

“If this had happened the way the defendant said it did, don’t you think he would have been out in his boxer shorts or whatever not leaving his wife side as she was literally dying on the grass?” asked Bradley. “It doesn’t add up.”

Although Desilets’ story could be inconsistent, his attorneys said that there were two constants: that Kathleen Desilets went out the window of her own volition and broke the window herself.

In their closing arguments, the defense maintained that the physical evidence is not consistent with a violent struggle or being thrown out the window.

“You don’t get pushed through a window and fall straight down,” Desilets' lawyer Michael C. Wilcox said in his closing remarks, adding that Kathleen fell on her buttocks and heels even though she was found several feet away from the house on her stomach.

The defense reminded the jury of state medical examiner Dr. Kimberly Springer’s testimony that Kathleen likely landed on her buttocks, and injuries on her wrists were consistent with someone trying to break their fall. Dirt was found on her heels and buttocks, not grass stains, said Wilcox. The attorney also noted that a piece of mulch was found in Kathleen’s hair, which Dr. Springer admitted she missed in an autopsy photo.

Bruises on Kathleen’s body were superficial and cuts on the underside of her legs reveal she was sitting in the window sill before she fell, according to Wilcox.

There is no evidence of assault, he told the jury. Although blood was found in the hallway and bathroom, “has anyone been able to date that blood?” he questioned, noting that cuts found on her body were not capable of leaving the blood that was found in the bathroom and hallway.

Wilcox urged jury members to use reason and common sense when looking at the physical evidence. With no signs of assault prior to the incident, “you would have to believe that in the middle of struggle, Roger Desilets opened up this window before throwing his wife through the other window,” said Wilcox, referring to the broken storm window that Kathleen’s body went through.

Additionally, the defense noted that Desilets consented to speaking to a trooper on the scene without a lawyer, allowed pictures to be taken, and gave up his clothing and cell phone after the incident.

One of the most telling things, said the defense, is that while Desilets’ house was being searched he asked one of the troopers if he thinks his wife might have tripped and fallen. “He didn’t know what really happened and he did not want to believe that she intentionally jumped out that window, and we all know why he didn’t want to believe that. Because morally he would be responsible for putting in motion a series of events leading to that women getting into that window, sitting in the window,” said Wilcox to the jury. “Roger Desilets then wanted to believe with every fiber of his being that she slipped and fell and it was an accident and that she didn’t intentionally jump out the window because he had a 20-plus year affair.”

The defense urged the jury to put their feelings about Roger Desilets aside.

“You can dislike the fact that he carried on an affair behind his wife’s back for over 20 years, you can dislike all of that,” said Wilcox. “This is not a contest about morality. This is a contest about reason.”

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