December 22, 2014

Elyria
Mostly sunny
23°F
test

Opening arguments presented in William Dembie murder trial

Assistant Lorain County Prosecutor Tony Cillo holds up the combat knife used to kill Holly Dembie during opening arguments Tuesday in William Dembie's murder trial. BRAD DICKEN/CHRONICLE

Assistant Lorain County Prosecutor Tony Cillo holds up the combat knife used to kill Holly Dembie during opening arguments Tuesday in William Dembie’s murder trial. BRAD DICKEN/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA – William Dembie Jr. knew what he was doing when he killed his wife, Holly Dembie, two years ago, Assistant Lorain County Prosecutor Tony Cillo said this morning during opening arguments in the former corrections officer’s aggravated murder trial.

Cillo said William Dembie was upset about the divorce Holly Dembie wanted and the two began arguing on Aug. 10, 2011, at their Grafton Township home. The argument turned into a fight and William Dembie punched his wife.

The fight cooled down briefly, Cillo said, but flared up again and William Dembie retrieved a combat knife and ultimately tried to drag his wife back upstairs. She fled into the upstairs bathroom and he forced the door open, Cillo said.

William Dembie pulled off his wife’s pants and stabbed her once as she tried to escape through the second-story window and after she fell 14 feet and 8 inches to the ground below, he went down the stairs and outside, where he stabbed and slashed her several more times, including multiple times in the throat and neck.

He then left his wife’s nude and bloody body outside like “unwanted trash,” Cillo said, and went back inside to prepare his clothing, books and money for the time he expected to spend in jail.

William Dembie ultimately called the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office to report he had killed his wife.

Defense attorney J. Anthony Rich didn’t deny William Dembie killed Holly Dembie, but insisted it wasn’t the premeditated murder Cillo made it out to be.

“’I saw red. I snapped,’ was the first thing out of Bill’s mouth when he voluntarily met with members of the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office,” Rich said.

He said prosecutors were looking at only part of the evidence and ignoring other pieces when it suited their purposes. For instance, Rich said, the fight began when Holly Dembie kicked William Dembie and he responded by punching her.

Rich also argued that William Dembie was still in a fit of rage when he went downstairs and killed Holly Dembie.

He said his client was willing to accept responsibility for his crimes, but not the more serious aggravated murder charge – which carries a much longer potential prison sentence .

The trial, which county Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski will decide instead of a jury, resumes this afternoon.