YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – A York County judge has acquitted a Chanceford Township man sentenced to life in prison for the death of his wife.
Judge Richard Renn ruled Tuesday that prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence to sustain the first-degree murder charge against 42-year-old Joseph Fitzpatrick.
Prosecutors alleged that Fizpatrick killed his wife, 43-year-old Annemarie, and tried to make her death in June 2012 look like an ATV accident. They said he drowned his wife in a creek on their property because he had a $1.7 million in life insurance policies on her and was having an affair with another woman.
Annemarie’s death initially was ruled an accidental drowning, but prosecutors said her co-workers soon discovered a handwritten note in her daily planner that read, “If something happens to me – JOE.” She also wrote of the couple’s marital problems in an email she sent from her work account to her personal account on the day she died.
Fitzpatrick’s email and Facebook accounts, according to police testimony, contained messages in which he wrote of his love for another woman and his plans to leave his wife, and a search of his work computer showed he had searched the Internet for “life insurance review during contestability period” and “polygraph legal in which states” in the days before Annemarie’s death.
The jurors who found him guilty were also told that Annemarie had a fractured rib and multiple bruises and abrasions on her neck, head, body, arms and legs, while her husband had no visible injuries and refused medical treatment.
Kyle King, chief administrator for the York County district attorney’s office, said prosecutors will appeal Renn’s order to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. He said Renn failed to appropriately consider the facts established pretrial and at trial.