York County man will go to trial for ATV death of his wife

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A York County judge ruled Tuesday there is enough evidence to send Joseph Fitzpatrick III to trial over the 2012 death of his wife, Annmarie. Joe Fitzpatrick was charged with criminal homicide, nearly two years after his wife’s death. Police say Joe staged an ATV accident that resulted in his wife’s death.

Police escorted Joe Fitzpatrick out of the courtroom, after the judge’s ruling, in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs.

“The district attorneys office is very pleased with the outcome of this preliminary hearing. We look forward to presenting this case to a jury and finding justice for Annmarie,” said Chief Deputy Prosecutor Dave Sunday, with the York County District Attorney’s Office.

During the preliminary hearing on Tuesday the judge heard testimony from the coroner and State Police investigators about the death of Annmarie on June 6, 2012.

Joe Fitzpatrick told police that his wife was driving the ATV at their home and he was on the back when it went over a six-foot embankment and into a creek. The coroner ruled Annmarie’s death a drowning. Her husband Joe did not have any injuries and refused medical treatment at the time.

A State Police accident reconstruction expert said his team recreated the accident six times, using an ATV and mannequins. He concluded that Annmarie and Joe should have both had no injuries, or similar injuries.

Joe Fitzpatrick’s Defense Attorney, Christopher Ferro disagreed, and said he plans to argue this in Joe’s defense. “This accident, according to the Commonwealth, can only happen one way. Well I have been doing this long enough to know that is not true. We are dealing with a complicated mechanical issue involving two human bodies. From what I heard today, there is no ability for them to say, it is not possible with respect to how my client indicated this occurred.”

Police also testified about a handwritten note they found in Annmarie’s day planner at her work. In the calendar, on the date June 6, 2012, Annmarie wrote, “If something happens to me- Joe.” The date is the day that Annmarie died.

Police also found an email Annmarie sent to herself that said in the subject line, “If something happens to me,” and the body of the email said, “Joe and I are having marital problems. Last night we almost had an accident where a huge log fell on me. Joe was on the pile with the log and had me untying a tarp directly below.”

Jessica George also testified. She is the woman Joe had started seeing in the weeks before his wife’s death. George testified that she met Joe in April 2012 at a bar. Within days Joe requested her as a friend on Facebook and the two began communicating by messaging, which led to phone calls, text messages and emails. She also testified that she spent time with Joe on at least six different occasions, including at his house, which he shared with his wife. She testified that Joe told her he planned to leave his wife, but he never said anything about hurting her.

“I think if we get fair and impartial juror,s and they keep and open mind and don’t just jump to a conclusion, maybe Joe committed an affair of the heart, but that doesn’t mean murder, I think we are going to be successful,” said Defense Attorney Ferro.

A formal arraignment is scheduled for May 30, 2014.