Crime scene depicted at trial Tamaqua man accused of fatally stabbing wife
Robert Bailey stabbed his wife Diane 27 times, causing major injury to her in three main locations on her body, her throat, right lung and a kidney, according to testimony Tuesday.
Details from the crime scene, including photographs and physical evidence dominated the second day of the murder trial for Bailey, 54, Tamaqua. He’s charged with first- and third-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment and possession of instruments of crime in the death of his wife, Diane, 43, on Nov. 26, 2017. The crime happened on Lafayette Street in Tamaqua, with the couple’s daughter Kali Hile, now 22, present during the attack.
On Monday, five people testified for the prosecution, handled by District Attorney Mike O’Pake, assisted by McCall Young. Tuesday, O’Pake presented testimony from four people, including Pennsylvania State Police forensic services supervisor Corporal David Dupree, expert medical/forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Johnson, Tamaqua Police Chief Henry Woods and Tamaqua Patrolman Doug Springer. Bailey is represented by Public Defender Kent Watkins, and Judge John Domalakes is presiding.
Crime scene photos
Attorney Watkins raised an objection to O’Pake presenting crime scene photographs.
“Those pictures are inflammatory, and I don’t think they are necessary,” Watkins said, as he and O’Pake had a sidebar with Judge Domalakes. “Injuries are detailed in other testimony.”
O’Pake argued and Domalakes allowed the use of the pictures. In about an hour of testimony, Corporal David Dupree and O’Pake walked the jury through the evidence, moving from the photographs – projected on a screen – to actual physical evidence including clothing worn that night by the victim and her attacker, some stiffened with dried blood.
Photographs of the Lafayette Street house showed a cheery red Santa on the porch roof; photographs of the victim lying in front of the house showed twin horrific neck gashes and a sidewalk soaked in blood, some pooled in the gutter. Clothing items were removed from tan evidence bags, and Dupree held up each item singly, walking back and forth in front of the jury.
During Dupree’s testimony, Robert Bailey kept his eyes either averted from the photographs on the screen, or averted from viewing the articles of clothing. After presenting the physical evidence, O’Pake then displayed autopsy photographs, also projected on the screen, with Bailey again turning his eyes away.
Both O’Pake and Watkins agreed to a stipulation that blood identified on the clothing and also on the knife and its handle matched Diane Bailey’s blood. O’Pake presented three more people before the prosecution rested at about 3 p.m. The defense will present its case Wednesday, and Bailey is expected to testify.
Johnson said Diane Bailey’s cause of death was multiple sharp force trauma, and manner of death, homicide. Of the 27 stab wounds, he identified three areas where the wounds were vital injuries, that by themselves would have caused death. Those included the large wound on the side of her neck, which severed the jugular and another artery; the stab wounds to her chest, which punctured her right lung; and the wounds to her lower back, which punctured a kidney. Johnson said it was impossible to know the order in which the wounds occurred.
On cross examination, Watkins asked questions about the toxicology report, which indicated the presence of methamphetamine, in the amount of 2,428 nanograms. Johnson explained that some medical tests report results in nanograms, adding that the minimum amount to elicit a report for presence of methamphetamine was 10 nanograms. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram; a gram is about 1/30 of an ounce. Under questioning by Watkins, Johnson said that Diane Bailey’s heart had abnormalities.
Building up for long time
Tamaqua Police Chief Henry Woods wasn’t on duty on the night of the murder but responded immediately when alerted about the homicide.
By phone he talked with Dupree and went to the crime scene. There, in addition to assessing the scene, he spoke with Kali Hile, asking her to come to the station to fill out a written statement. Woods went to the Tamaqua Police Station to get the paperwork required to request search warrants. He obtained search warrants for both the Lafayette Street residence and for the person of Robert Bailey from District Justice David Plachko in Port Carbon. He returned to the crime scene to provide the search warrant for the premises to Dupree and returned to the police station to interview Bailey.
“He (Bailey) said this had been building up for a long time, that both had been using meth and that Diane and Kali were stealing to get money for drugs,” Woods testified. “He said they had been talking about it and argued about it – and that she was going to leave and stay with Kali and said that infuriated him.”
“He said he pulled out a knife and started stabbing her, that he kept trying to get to her throat and said to her, ‘I told you not to (expletive) with me.”
In response, Diane Bailey said her last words, “It’s over.”
The stabbing ended with Diane Bailey propped against a parked car, bleeding to death. Robert Bailey sat on their porch steps and looked at her, until she slumped over, he told Woods. Then he left.
Woods later took Bailey to Plachko’s office to be formally arraigned. He told Plachko he wasn’t going to get a lawyer, adding, “I killed my wife. It doesn’t get much worse than that.”
Under cross-examination, Watkins asked Woods why the interview with Bailey wasn’t videotaped. Woods said that he didn’t want to move Bailey from the holding cell, as he was covered in blood, which was evidence. Watkins said that later, after Bailey’s bloody clothes were removed and clean clothes had been obtained from his house, he could have been interviewed and videotaped.
Tamaqua Police Officer Doug Springer, the officer in charge for New Philadelphia and Walker Township, is a part-time officer for Tamaqua. He responded to the police station to see if he could offer assistance, and sat in on Woods’ interview of Bailey, taking notes. His testimony also included recalling that Bailey said, “He was going for her throat,” and that Bailey had said “If I could do it all over again, I would.”