Police say it was a single stab wound to the abdomen that killed a Hyde Park man last week. The victim's girlfriend is behind bars charged with his killing. But is there new evidence that could clear Jeanette Maxfield?
For officers on the scene it appeared to be a clear-cut murder case. Chris Cafferky, 48, was dead, police found a large knife on the table next to his body, and the only other person in the house told them "I'm afraid I may have done this."
Nearly two weeks after Cafferky's death there is new speculation about how he died.
"There was no evidence linking her directly to the knife," said David Sleigh, Maxfield's lawyer.
Last week, she was charged with Cafferky's murder. Maxfield, 23, told police she was drinking, blacked out and doesn't remember what happened to her boyfriend. She denied the charges in court. But prosecutors say she's the one who reported his death and was covered in Cafferky's blood.
"At that time Ms. Maxfield had blood on her body. They were able to obtain some clothing that Ms. Maxfield had worn earlier in the day that was also covered in blood," Lamoille County Deputy State's Attorney Todd Shove said Feb. 18.
"Given the lack of multiple stab wounds it may well have been suicide," Sleigh said.
Now, Maxfield's lawyer is suggesting that Cafferky may have killed himself. Sleigh is pointing to observations of officers at the scene and the medical examiner's report. Maxfield's lawyer got a video from the scene admitted into evidence Thursday that allegedly contains a conversation between police regarding the location of Cafferky's wound.
"The officers discussing the fact that this may well have been suicide, that there were no defensive wounds of any sort on Mr. Cafferky," Sleigh said.
Sleigh claims the fatal wound is in a spot that could indicate Cafferky stabbed himself. He says that, coupled with the fact that the Hyde Park man was recently hospitalized for suicidal thoughts, creates reasonable doubt in the murder case.
"So absent any other evidence of the mechanics of the stabbing, we argued today that it's sort of a 50-50 proposition with no greater weight falling on either side of the scale at this point," Sleigh explained.
We reached out to prosecutors. They would not comment on these latest allegations.
Maxfield told police she has multiple personalities and was diagnosed a borderline personality and mood disorder last year. She's currently being held without bail. Her lawyer asked the judge to reconsider that during Thursday's weight of the evidence hearing. The judge is taking the request under advisement. Sleigh expects a decision within a few days.
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