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The attorney for a Chanceford Township man who killed his wife in 2012 is seeking to have the murder conviction overturned or, at the least, to get a new trial.

Attorney Chris Ferro said he presented oral arguments Thursday in the York County Court of Common Pleas on why Joseph Fitzpatrick III should be granted a new trial.

Two notes from Fitzpatrick's wife, Annemarie, presented at his May trial shouldn't have been admitted because they are hearsay, Ferro said.

And there was never sufficient evidence on the cause and manner of Annemarie Fitzpatrick's death given during the trial, Ferro added.

Fitzpatrick, 42, is serving life in prison for the death of his wife. He drowned her in a creek on their 30-acre property on June 6, 2012, but tried to make it look like an ATV accident, prosecutors said.

Notes: The two notes — one an email and the other handwritten — from Annemarie implicated Fitzpatrick in her death and were linchpins in the prosecution's case.

Just hours before her death, Annemarie, 43, wrote, dated and signed a note in her work day-planner that said, "If anything happens to me — Joe."

She also wrote an email to herself the same morning, with the subject line "if something happens to me."

It stated: "Joe and I are having marital problems. Last night we almost had an accident where a huge log fell on me. Joe was on the pile with the log and had me untying a tarp directly below."

However, Ferro argues the notes are hearsay and a judge never should have allowed them to be admitted as evidence.

"I think our arguments are more than valid and I think the judge will agree," Ferro said. "But it's an uphill battle."

What happened: On the night of Annemarie's death, she and her husband ate dinner at their picnic table next to the creek. Fitzpatrick physically forced her into the water and drowned her, according to prosecutors.

He then rolled their ATV into the creek and called 911, reporting Annemarie had been driving the ATV, with him on the back, when it went into the creek, according to trial testimony.

Common Pleas Judge Richard K. Renn is expected to rule on the post-sentence motion requesting a new trial in the coming weeks. If the motion is denied, Ferro said he'll appeal it to Pennsylvania's higher courts.

A spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office declined to comment.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.

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