Conley Trial: Prosecution vilifies Conley, defense accuses Yoder's husband

Opening arguments for the murder trial of Kaitlyn Conley took place in Oneida County Court Tuesday morning.

Posted: Dec. 1, 2017 4:34 PM

(April 25, 2017)

UTICA, N.Y. – Opening arguments for the murder trial of Kaitlyn Conley took place in Oneida County Court Tuesday morning.

Twenty-four-year-old Kaitlyn Conley of Sauquoit is accused of poisoning her chiropractor boss, Dr. Mary Yoder, to death in 2015, which she was charged with in 2016. She’s also accused of attempting to frame Yoder’s son, Adam Yoder, for the murder.

The court room was packed as opening arguments began shortly after 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, following a lengthy setup by Dateline NBC crews and a warning from Judge Michael Dwyer that it wouldn’t be tolerated every day of the trial.

Prosecutor Laurie Lisi spoke for an hour and five minutes during her opening argument, in which she argued in detail how Conley allegedly killed Yoder in 2015 by poisoning her with the gout medicine Colchicine.

"This defendant's DNA is present both on the cardboard sleeve the Colchicine bottle was delivered in and on the Colchicine bottle itself," said Lisi.

On the day that Yoder fell ill, Lisi said Conley and Yoder were the only two in the office. Oftentimes, Lisi said, Conley was the first person in the office and the last to leave, and the Yoder family trusted her so much that they gave her a key.

Lisi said evidence would show that the email account associated with the transaction to purchase the Colchicine belonged to Conley, and she also said that Conley’s second interview with the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office would be some of the most important testimony in the trial.

And while Lisi said that the jury shouldn’t be swayed by the fact that Yoder’s husband, William Yoder, is now dating Mary Yoder’s sister, that bit of information is a key component in the defense’s argument.

Defense attorney Christopher Pelli spoke for 27 minutes during his opening argument, in which he accused William Yoder of murdering his wife, and said that Conley lacked a motive for murdering Mary Yoder.


"I have direct evidence. I have two, possibly three, witnesses who will take the stand and say up to six months prior to Mary's death, Bill is meeting with Kathy Richmond in a restaurant in Cazenovia, holding hands, lovey dovey," said Pelli.

Pelli said that even if the jury believes Conley is “most likely” guilty, they must return a not guilty verdict because they cannot be sure beyond reasonable doubt that Conley is guilty.

Pelli also said that witnesses would testify that William Yoder and his late wife’s sister were seen together holding hands six months prior to Mary Yoder’s death. Pelli argued that there is more reason to believe William Yoder murdered Mary rather than Conley.

Opening arguments wrapped up around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. The first witness will take the stand at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Oneida County Court.

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