Murder Prosecution To Proceed Against Enfield Man In Wife's Killing

HARTFORD — A judge on Tuesday found that the state has enough evidence to proceed with its murder case against John Dewees Jr., a 49-year-old Enfield man accused of killing his severely disabled wife.

After hearing an abbreviated version of the state's evidence against Dewees during a two-day probable-cause hearing, Hartford Superior Court Judge Hunchu Kwak found that there was enough evidence for the state to file the murder charge.

Defense attorney Gerald Klein entered a not guilty plea for Dewees and the case is due back in court Sept. 15.

Kwak heard testimony from several witnesses, including Enfield police Det. Timothy Lewis, who described the inconsistent explanations of Anja Dewees' injuries and death that he obtained during an interview with Dewees.

The judge also heard from Dr. James Gill, the state's chief medical examiner, who said Anja Dewees, 45, died of blunt injury to the head with a skull fracture.

That injury, including a seven-inch fracture to her skull discovered during an autopsy, was caused when Dewees threw his wife into a bathtub and she struck her head, Gill said. Dewees acknowledged to police that dropped his wife into the tub, and also admitted that he twice punched her in the face, Lewis testified.

John Dewees initially was charged with manslaughter after Enfield police went to his home at 4 Magnolia Drive on May 22 in response to a neighbor's report that Dewees said he had killed his wife. By that point, Anja Dewees had been dead at least two days and her body had begun to decompose, according to the warrant for John Dewees' arrest.

Dewees told officers that he placed her in a water bed mattress cover to try to contain the smell of decomposition, Lewis said.

Anja Dewees was 5-foot-2, but weighed only about 70 pounds, Gill said. Evidence presented at the hearing and in the warrant suggests that she suffered from alcoholism, did not eat regularly, had liver disease and may have had cancer. Anja Dewees also was so disabled that she was incontinent and wore a diaper, and an instance in which she soiled herself may have been what prompted the fatal assault, according to the warrant.

Dewees told police that his wife had been sick with liver disease for about four years, and that he was tired of changing her diapers, according to the warrant. She was bedridden most of the time, he told police, and he did the cooking and cleaning, and also bathed her, and he blamed her poor health on her drinking, the warrant said.

Gill told the judge that Anja Dewees sustained a variety of injuries that were inflicted with significant force, including a lacerated liver, rib fractures, a variety of bruises and lacerations, and the serious head injury. He said it was his opinion that the injuries were caused by numerous blows to her body.

"This was not from an accidental fall into a bathtub," Gill testified. "This was inflicted injury and this was a homicide."

Klein told the judge that he believed the evidence was consistent with manslaughter, but that Dewees did not intend to kill his wife. The initial manslaughter charge, he argued, was appropriate.

Prosecutor Vicki Melchiorre countered that the judge could infer Dewees' intent from his actions: He threw her in the bathtub, she hit her head, he didn't call for help, and he continued to beat her, she said.

"He wanted her to die and he continued to beat her to make sure she died," Melchiorre said.

Copyright © 2018, CT Now