December 21, 2014

Elyria
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Defense seeking delay in Dembie murder case

William Dembie Jr. of Grafton Township appears in court in 2011. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

William Dembie Jr. of Grafton Township appears in court in 2011. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — Attorneys for accused killer William Dembie Jr. have asked Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski to delay the scheduled Dec. 3 trial of their client because they want more time to counter a report prepared by a prosecution expert.

J. Anthony Rich, one of Dembie’s attorneys, said he needs more time to examine the findings of an expert that would challenge a defense report that focuses on allegations Dembie himself may have been a victim of battered spouse syndrome and his state of mind at the time he allegedly killed his wife, Holly Dembie.

William Dembie was a Lorain County Jail corrections officer when he allegedly stabbed his wife multiple times with a combat knife on Aug. 11, 2011.

Following the killing, William Dembie called the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office and reported that he had beheaded his wife. A blood-soaked William Dembie surrendered to deputies when they arrived at the couple’s Grafton Township home.

Investigators have said that William Dembie attacked his wife inside the house and she fled before plunging out of a second-story bathroom window. William Dembie then allegedly went outside and stabbed Holly Dembie twice in the neck and slit her throat twice.

Rich said Monday that the prosecution’s report went beyond providing a balanced review of Dembie’s claims that he was abused by Holly Dembie, allegations her family has vehemently denied. Rich said the report crossed the line into advocating for the prosecution.

“This is a complete railroad job,” he said.

Rich said he needs until early next year to have his own expert review the prosecution report, which is not a public document, and prepare a response.

County Prosecutor Dennis Will, however, said that the prosecution report would be used only to challenge the findings of the defense expert. Prosecutors have argued that the defense expert, Kenneth Gruenfeld, isn’t qualified to testify in the case.

Assistant County Prosecutor Tony Cillo said that it’s not as simple as putting off the trial for a few months. He said prosecutors have other cases to prepare for and also worried that if Betleski grants a delay it could touch off a cascade effect of delays in which both sides seek additional time to review new expert reports.

Rich countered that the aggravated murder and murder charges his client faces in the case could send him to prison for the rest of his life and in the interests of justice, a delay should be granted.

Betleski said he will review the prosecution report and make a ruling today.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.