Kaitlyn Conley stared straight ahead as four people who were once like her family talked about the pain she caused when she poisoned their mother, Mary Yoder, killing her, in 2015. Conley's 23-year sentence was only two years less than the maximum allowed by law. But for the Yoders, justice doesn't necessarily bring peace.
"Make no mistake. As much as I hate her, which is more than I ever thought I would be capable of hating anyone, I hate myself infinitely more. I introduced her to my family. I got her a job with my parents. And if I hadn't done those things, my mother would still be alive," said Adam Yoder, his voice heavy with sadness and regret. "Since this investigation began, I have seen three psychologists and one psychiatrist. I've now been prescribed multiple medications for sleep, for major depression, for severe anxiety and for PTSD, all of which have been prescribed for one simple reason: self hatred."
Victim Mary Yoder's eldest daughter, Liana Hegde, talked about the emotional tug-of-war of trying to survive her own grief, while helping her four children navigate theirs.
"The hardest thing I have ever had to do as a parent was to sit my children down for the second time in a month and tell them their grandmother died again. I watched my 6-year-old's heart break in front of me....his lips shaking, he asked, 'we don't have a grandma anymore?'"
Mary Yoder's widower recounted the pain of his wife's last days, spent vomiting, suffering from diarrhea, and coding in the hospital, as puzzled doctors fought to save the woman who was the picture of health only 48 hours prior.
"We had to helplessly watch her die again and again and again. The pain of that last day will haunt me and my family for the rest of our lives," said William Yoder.
Mary Yoder's sister, Janine King, spoke, but on behalf of the woman who killed her sister.
"Although I believe she is innocent, I must respect the decision of our courts. with that being said, I'm writing to you to plead for mercy and leniency," said King.
When it was her turn, defendant Kaitlyn Conley said the two words jurors in both her trials never heard her say during hours of videotaped police interviews.
"With all due respect to the justice system and to our jury system...I'm innocent," said Conley, crying.
The judge said Mary Yoder's final days weighed heavily upon him.
"Two days may not seem like an awful long time, but if you have a ventilator down your throat and your arms and legs are strapped to the bed, they are an excruciating long time," said the Honorable Michael L. Dwyer.
Conley's defense attorney filed an appeal minutes after the conclusion of her sentencing, but says another attorney will handle it.
"John Cirando is gonna handle the appeal. John Cerrando does nothing but appeals. I've known John for 35 years. He's in Rochester on a daily basis," said Policelli.
Prosecutor Laurie Lisi shared her hopes for the fractured Yoder family.
"That this brings them closure. That they can put this difficult two years behind them. That they can take the legacy that's been left behind by Mary Yoder and try to embrace life and live life the way their mother and wife did."
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