Thursday, November 23, 2017 Elyria 26°

Cops and Courts

Delay in Dembie murder trial rejected


ELYRIA — The trial of accused killer and former corrections officer William Dembie Jr. will go forward as scheduled Dec. 3.

Attorney J. Anthony Rich, one of Dembie’s lawyers, had sought a delay until early 2014 to give him more time to review and respond to a prosecution report, but Common Pleas Court Judge Mark Betleski rejected the bid Wednesday.

Dembie, 44, resigned as a Lorain County Jail corrections officer after the Aug. 11, 2011, death of his wife, Holly, 33, who he is accused of killing at the couple’s Grafton Township home.

William Dembie is facing aggravated murder and murder charges. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Despite Betleski’s ruling to deny the defense more time, Rich said he’ll be ready when the trial opens Dec. 3.

“When you believe your client is overcharged, you want as much time as you can to present your case,” Rich said Wednesday. “We were trying to buy ourselves a bit more time to concentrate on that aspect (the prosecution report) of the case and do more homework, but now we’ve got two weeks, and we’ll be ready to go as ordered.

“We got this report at the 11th hour, and the judge apparently didn’t think it was that significant,” Rich said.

Rich has said previously that the report prepared by County Prosecutor Dennis Will gave an unfair picture of the case that favored the prosecution in its challenge of claims by William Dembie that he was abused by his wife.

Rich said William Dembie murdered his wife because she was abusing him, but members of Holly Dembie’s family have denied those charges, saying instead that William Dembie was the abuser.

In the spring of 2012, William Dembie claimed in court filings that his wife was having an affair with a married man. The couple argued about the alleged affair the night Holly Dembie was killed, according to Rich, who is representing William Dembie with co-counsel Brian Darling.

Rich recently said he would need a couple of months for defense expert Kenneth Gruenfeld to go over the prosecution report in order to write a response.

“That report never addressed that Mr. Dembie suffered from PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome),” Rich said.

Will has stated the report from his office would only be used in court to challenge Gruenfeld’s findings.

Investigators said Holly Dembie, a former North Ridgeville resident, fell from a second-floor window as she fled after being attacked by her husband inside their home.

After she fell, William Dembie came outside and allegedly stabbed his naked wife twice in the neck before cutting her throat with a combat knife, police said.

Dembie called the Sheriff’s Department to report he had beheaded his wife before surrendering to deputies a short time later.

A military veteran, Dembie “was never in any kind of trouble” up to the time of his wife’s death, according to Rich.

Holly Dembie’s mother, Cheryl Foldes, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against William Dembie in August 2012. That case is pending as most civil lawsuits predicated on a criminal case are not resolved until the criminal case has been completed.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or

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