A man who knew he wanted to be a physician at age 13, son of a tailor from Carbondale Pennsylvania… A “mild-mannered and patient man” threw it all away one day on March 8, 1985. He was a former cardiologist at Hartford Hospital’s cardiology catheterization laboratory.
Means, Motive and Opportunity….
Means- the ability of the defendant to commit the crime. Dr. Russell Manfredi, age 33, had the ability, as a very intelligent man, to plan and execute a murder; He had the strength to grab a baseball bat from his wife while arguing with her and strike her about the head. He had the ability to drop her body from a second story window while still alive. He had the ability to stage a car accident by crashing it into a nearby utility pole and placing his wife in the driver’s seat.
Motive- the reason the defendant had to commit the crime… His wife belittled him…made him feel incompetent and she was overzealous in her discipline of their three sons, such that he served as a protector.
Opportunity-whether or not the defendant had the chance to commit the crime- (Did he or did he not have an alibi?) Russell Manfredi was home with his family and argued with his wife in the wee hours of the morning when the police were called to the scene of a “car accident” at 6:02 am on a Friday.
“The Lie- Explanation to the Police” His wife Catherine was “spitting up blood and was driving herself to the hospital” when the accident occurred.
The Telltale Signs uncovered by Dr. Henry Lee – Blood spatter and a missing bedroom window shade told Dr. Lee, “There’s Something Wrong Here.”
The Defense’s Psychiatrist, Howard Borden claimed Manfredi experienced a “Catathymic Crisis.” This crisis was a theory espoused in 1937 by Dr. Frederic Wertham, as an explanation for some types of violent and apparently motivation- less crimes. This theory is comprised of five stages and is said to be attributed to the “serial manifestation “of serial murderers.
Stage 1 –A thinking disorder occurs within the mind of the criminal;
Stage 2 – A plan is created to commit a violent criminal act;
Stage 3 – Internal emotional tension leads to the commission of the criminal act which leads to…
Stage 4- “A superficial calmness in which the need to commit the violent act is eliminated and normal activity can be initiated;
Stage 5 – The mind adjusts itself and “understands that the thinking process that caused the commission of the criminal act was flawed” and therefore the mind makes adjustments in order to prevent further criminal activity.
*Note– According to Author, Arthur Garrison, (Senior Criminal Justice Planner, Delaware Criminal Justice Council) Serial killers never reach stage five, rather they return to a cycle between the second stage and fourth stages .
[In other words… Dr. Manfredi was a one time murderer only and that makes everything okay??]
Civil Suit- Wrongful Death
After Catherine Billings Manfredi’s death, a wrongful death suit was filed in State and Federal Court in:
AETNA CASUALTY & SURETY CO. v. JONES 8/20/1991
The principal issue in this appeal is whether an insurance company may use collateral estoppel (the situation in which a judgment in one case prevents “estops” a party to that suit from trying to litigate the issue in another legal action) to bar the heirs of a homicide victim from relitigating the issue of the criminal defendant’s intent to cause the injuries that resulted in the victim’s death.
The defendant, Russell F. Manfredi was convicted of the crime of manslaughter in the first degree for the killing of his wife, Catherine Manfredi. The named defendant, Margaret Billings Jones (Jones), is the administratrix of the estate of the decedent. The plaintiff, Aetna Casualty and Surety Company, Manfredi’s insurer at the time his wife was killed, brought this declaratory judgment action to determine the extent of its obligation to pay damages awarded to Jones against Manfredi in a wrongful death action.
Following the death of the decedent, Jones was appointed administratrix of her estate. In that role, on March 20, 1985, Jones brought a wrongful death action in the Superior Court against Manfredi. The plaintiff’s motion to intervene in that suit was denied. On December 16, 1988, a default judgment was entered against Manfredi, and on January 18, 1989, he was ordered to pay damages in the amount of $450,000 to the estate of his deceased wife.
At his criminal trial, Manfredi was charged with the crime of murder in violation of 53a-54a (a). Because the jury found that he was suffering from an extreme emotional disturbance at the time of the offense, he was found guilty of the lesser included offense of manslaughter in the first degree in violation of 53a-55 (a)(2). In order to have found Manfredi guilty under 53a-55 (a)(2), the jury necessarily had to have found that he had the “intent to cause the death” of his wife. Further, the jury was instructed in conformance with General Statutes 53a-3(11) that in order to find that Manfredi intended to cause the death of his wife, it had to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that he had the “conscious objective” to cause her death. The jury’s verdict of guilty represents its finding beyond a reasonable doubt that Manfredi caused the death of his wife at a time when it was his conscious objective to do so. While the jury found that he suffered from an extreme emotional disturbance, the presence of an extreme emotional disturbance “`does not make the action any less intentional.'” State v. Elliot.
In particular, the policies provide that injuries intentionally caused by the insured will not be covered by the plaintiff… We conclude that the issue of intent, at the criminal trial and under the insurance policies, is identical.
There can be no question that the issue of his intent was thoroughly litigated in a full adversary proceeding. The judgment is reversed and the case is remanded with direction to render judgment in favor of the plaintiff.
The Prosecutor– Herbert G, Appleton was a bald and affable man. Of this case he stated, ”He killed her intentionally and then tried to get away with it.”
This mans sticks in the mind of Ladyjustice because…. Herb Appleton was the same prosecutor of her father’s career murderer. And…. Herb Appleton was the true genius who used the joinder legal concept to convict the two time murderer, robber and drug dealer of her father. And… The Manfredi trial was conducted just prior to the murder trial of Perry Lee Herring, (Murderer of Donald W. Gore…and a Herring accomplice) after a 6.5 year wait for trial.
The rumor around the courthouse was that Herb was very tired after the three month Manfredi trial. Ladyjustice’s family worried, would he be effective in our unique two trials -one jury case?
Out on Appeal- Russell Manfredi
The CT statutes at the time allowed convicted murderers to be out of prison on appeal in the 1980s… (‘Just like the Peter Carone-Adam Zachs case). Russell Manfredi was sentenced to 20 years for manslaughter in December 1986 but did not begin serving his sentence until 1990. Manfredi appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which failed to hear his appeal. He was also free on bond for 5.5 years before his trial! [ LJ- What a travesty of justice!]
Oops… A Judicial Error- 1992
After serving two years of a 20 year sentence, Manfredi was to go before the State Board of Pardons in November 1992. Evidently it was placed on the docket in error… The rule as stated was that a state prisoner must serve either half of their minimum sentence, or when sentences are greater than eight years, they must serve four to be eligible for a hearing.
A Sympathetic Prosecutor
A different prosecutor, John J. Kelly, took Manfredi’s request for commutation of his sentence. Manfredi was to present several letters from jurors who convicted him of manslaughter that say the 20-year sentence the judge gave him — the maximum penalty — was “unjust” and “a miscarriage of justice.”
The letters were written by three jurors and an alternate in the case to Gov. William A. O’Neill about 14 months after Judge Thomas Corrigan (Same judge for the trial of the murderer of Donald W.Gore) sentenced Manfredi in December 1986.
Kelly said those letters convinced him to take on Manfredi’s case. “I was a prosecutor for over 20 years,” Kelly said. “What really intrigued me about this case was the unique position these jurors were taking regarding his sentencing. There was amazement and disagreement over the length of his sentence. I’ve never encountered that, and it was a major factor in my taking the case.”
Kelly said Manfredi hoped for a commutation of his sentence, so that he could be released and allowed to practice medicine in a clinic that would serve a poor community. Kelly was quoted as saying…”Our position will be that here is a man who, at one time, was licensed to practice medicine in Connecticut,” “There are people in this state who can’t afford decent medical treatment. He, obviously, with the appropriate supervision, is available to do that.”
After his conviction and while he was free on an appeal bond, Manfredi worked as an AIDS counselor and educator at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Paterson, N.J. Kelly said Manfredi counseled thousands of patients and had to inform at least 500 that they had tested HIV-positive.
Response from the now deceased Hartford State’s Attorney, John M. Bailey:
“I think the jury already gave him his break — they found him not guilty of murder,”. A murder conviction would have required that Manfredi be sentenced to between 25 years and 60 years in prison. “I have to live with that sentence of 20 years, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that sentence is completely served.”
Blah, Blah, Blah…. This guy is a murderer.. It doesn’t matter how brilliant he was… or that he struggled to get his education… or that his wife may have been a tyrant…. He killed her, he tried to cover it up… He thought he had a “get out of jail free card “because he was an MD … Not so….
And the saddest part of all.. All of those people on the “right side of the law” are now deceased including Hartford State’s Attorney Jack Baily, Judge Thomas Corrigan, Prosecutor, Herb Appleton and Defense Attorney, Edward J. Daley.
As for the residence of 15 Winterset Lane in West Hartford, CT, as of 2007, it was owned and occupied by Beth Slosberg. Part of the bedroom’s wood floor was still bloodstained, Slosberg said….. She had been meaning to have it refinished, she said, but for now, the floor is carpeted and the horrible encounter of 22 years past “has not affected our life one way or another.” Beth saw people slowing down as they drove by… curiosity seekers! Several years ago, Dr. Henry Lee visited the home with a Court TV crew to tape a segment about the murder investigation.
References: The Crime
Unlawful Death Suit
The “Catathmic Crisis”