Thursday, June 23, 2016

Wyoming County: Woman who killed husband sentenced to 25 years in prison

Press release from Wyoming County DA Donald O'Geen:
UPDATE: JUNE 23, 2016
Today, the defendant, Charlene Mess, age 49 of Attica, was sentenced to 25 years in state prison followed by 5 years of post-release supervision based on her plea to Manslaughter in the First Degree.  During the sentencing hearing Laura Scott, the sister of the deceased Douglas Mess, and Thomas Stroud, a friend of the Mess family both spoke on behalf of the victim Douglas Mess and his entire family.  After both attorneys commented the defendant declined to make any comments. 
“During my comments to the court I pointed out to the judge that in this case the defendant hit (NOT STABBED) the victim multiple times with a pitch fork knocking him to the ground rendering him helpless but alive.  Once in that state the defendant went to get a small caliber gun, placed the gun directly on the back of his head and shot him.  Once the murder was complete the defendant tied the victim’s hands and feet with bailing wire, she then dragged him out of that part of the barn with an electric feed cart (which is capable of moving hundreds of pounds of animal feed) to a part of the barn where she was then able to scoop the victim up with a skid steer.  She then drove him out to the manure pile where she buried his body hoping that his body would decompose quickly so that his body would never be discovered.  The defendant then planned and fostered a story around Mr. Mess being missing.  She gave a statement to the NYSP on the day after the murder stating that she did not know where he was and that she had thought he had been called into work.  While she was giving this statement the victim’s sons and friends were on the farm looking for him.  The defendant also acted like she was also looking for his whereabouts when she saddled her horse and rode around the farm. It wasn’t until one of the sons noticed the disturbed manure pile that the defendant’s behavior began to change.  As soon as the members of the search party and the state police descended upon the manure pile where his body laid the defendant had an anxiety attack and was taken to the hospital.  The investigation at that point centered on the defendant; which then led to today’s conviction and sentence.
I want to thank the members of the New York State Police, especially the major crime unit, for leading this investigation along with assistance from members of the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office, the Attica Fire Department, Wyoming County Emergency Management, the Coroner’s office and the many others who helped bring the Mess family justice in this case.   In cases like this collaboration of resources and cross agency cooperation is key to the final result.  This sentence will not bring Doug back to his family but at least it will keep his killer away from society for a very long time.  The family will now go forward remembering Doug as a hardworking, gentle and kind man who was always there for his family and community.  I wish them all strength during this difficult time,” said Wyoming County District Attorney, Donald O’Geen.

UPDATE: APRIL 28, 2016
At 11:30 a.m. today, the defendant, Charlene Mess, age 49, plead guilty to Manslaughter in the First Degree conditioned upon a determinate sentencing range of 18 to 25 years in prison with an additional 2.5 to 5 years of Post Release Supervision.  She also waived her right to appeal.  During the appearance the defendant indicated that she had plenty of time to discuss this plea offer with her attorney and that she was prepared to change her plea. Under the plea, she admitted to causing the death of her husband, Douglas Mess.  Members of Mr. Mess were present in court to see Mrs. Mess admit her guilt.
Sentencing will be on June 23, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. at the Wyoming County Courthouse before the Honorable Michael M. Mohun.

“I hope that this admission of guilt by Mrs. Mess will provide some closure and justice for the Mess Family.  We have been in consultation with the Mess family throughout these proceedings and specifically regarding this disposition.  It is a disposition that has been discussed for months but because of the competency issues we had to address a few weeks ago, it was a disposition that we could not go forward on.  Once the judge ruled that she was competent the defense team was able to begin discussing this disposition once again.  We have been convinced for months that the defendant was faking or maligning her so-called incompetency as a delay tactic to avoid taking responsibility for killing her husband.  Once the judge ruled that she was in fact competent she had no more legal maneuvers to avoid taking responsibility.  The Mess Family and I are hopeful that the court will give her 25 years in prison or at least something close to that as we believe that that amount of time is the most appropriate sentence for her actions in this case,” said, Wyoming County District Attorney Donald O’Geen. 
Note: A determinate sentence means that the individual must serve 6/7ths of the actual sentence. The judge will have discretion to sentence her to any number of years on or between that range (i.e. 20.5, 21, 21.5 etc.).  The District Attorney’s office will have no further comment other than what is in this press release or until after sentencing on the 23rd.