Fitzpatrick's bail revoked during hearing ahead of re-trial in wife's death

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

Annemarie Fitzpatrick drowned in June 2012 in Muddy Creek near where she and her husband lived in Chanceford Township. Nobody seems to dispute that.

How the 43-year-old died, however, is still a question — still the question — nearly 11 years later as her husband, Joseph Fitzpatrick III, prepares to go to trial for a second time on murder and involuntary manslaughter charges.

Joseph Fitzpatrick III

At issue is whether Annemarie drowned after an ATV she drove, with Joseph riding behind her, wheeled off a bank and crashed into the 8-foot-deep creek. Or whether Joseph allegedly held her head underwater and staged the crash to look like an accident.

In other words, the question is whether the manner of Annemarie’s death was homicide.

The York County District Attorney’s Office brought in the chief medical examiner and coroner of Denver, Colorado, to serve as a new expert in the case.

“In my opinion, this is a homicide,” said Dr. James Caruso.

His testimony was heard Tuesday as part of a hearing on whether to admit him into the case as an expert witness.

Fitzpatrick’s attorney, Christopher Ferro, questioned Caruso’s opinion and the key factors on which he based it during the seven-hour hearing.

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“Given different details of the scenario, it’s possible that it’s accidental,” Caruso told Ferro as they discussed hypothetical causes for Annemarie’s injuries.

Caruso said District Attorney Dave Sunday reached out and asked him to review the case, presumably because of his experience with the U.S. Navy and expertise in investigating water-related deaths.

He acknowledged he wasn’t sure what exactly motivated Sunday to contact him last year, since Annemarie’s drowning as a cause of death isn’t the contested issue. In determining manner of death, he said, “I’m another forensic pathologist in the case.”

Fitzpatrick, 49, sat with Ferro while wearing an orange outfit, showing that he is once again an inmate at York County Prison.

He was released on a $1 supervised bail last July amid the manner-of-death question as a Pennsylvania Superior Court order upheld a decision by York County Court of Common Pleas Senior Judge Richard Renn.

The DA’s Office appealed, and the full Superior Court temporarily halted Fitzpatrick’s release in October, which sent him back to jail. The upper court then followed up last week by reversing Renn’s decision, court documents show.

Renn followed through with the order Tuesday.

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“We formally revoke defendant’s bail and remand to custody,” he said.

— Reach Aimee Ambrose at or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.