Fredonia 2010 murder trial to begin

Jury selection is set to begin today at the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville for the Fredonia murder trial for former One Temple Square resident Jason P. Wells.

Wells is accused of stabbing and beating fellow One Temple Square resident Ruth Fisk, a retired nurse, to death in February 2010. He was 37 at that time and was indicted and charged with second-degree murder, an accusation county District Attorney David Foley plans on pursuing during the trial.

“Of course, when we go to trial, what we’re obviously going to focus in on in the first place is picking a jury,” Foley explained. “We’ll be going through the process and hopefully get 12 fair and impartial jurors. Then, it’s our obligation to put in our case in chief and then go from there.”

Foley added jury selection is scheduled to take about a week, with the prosecution’s case in chief commencing on July 15. He estimated the prosecution’s side could last through July 22.

If convicted, Wells faces a minimum of 15 years to life in state prison and a maximum of 25 years to life.

Lyle Hajdu of the Lakewood-based firm Erickson, Webb, Scolton & Hajdu Attorneys At Law is Wells’ defense lawyer. Hajdu explained the defense will attempt to bring Wells’ mental health to the forefront of its rebuttal to the prosecution’s case in chief.

“We’ll be asserting a psychiatric defense in the case, so that will be the issue,” he said. “The jury will be hearing from various psychiatrists and psychologists and other mental health professionals who have examined Jason and rendered their expert opinions.”

This trial comes after the case was adjourned for about three years, in part due to the investigation into Wells’ psychiatric health, a concern the defense initially raised.

Fisk’s murder was the only reported murder in Chautauqua County in 2010. At that time, it was Fredonia’s first homicide in more than a decade.

The One Temple Square apartment complex is a low-income residence for elderly and/or disabled individuals.

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