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Dundee Woman’s 2021 Murder Conviction Affirmed


The murder conviction of a Dundee woman has been affirmed by a state appeals court.

Recently, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, Fourth Department, unanimously affirmed Kelly Anderson’s 2021 conviction of second-degree murder for the death of her 16-month-old son, Ethan Eslick, back in August of 2002.

The case was initially investigated by the Yates County Sheriff’s Office but had been dormant as a cold case until March of 2018 when investigators from the Sheriff’s Office presented it to the then-newly elected District Attorney, Todd Casella. From there, help was sought from the State Police Special Investigations Unit, FBI, and their Behavioral Analysis Unit to reopen the investigation. After 90 days of wiretaps and 4 days of grand jury presentations, an indictment was secured in June of 2020 and handed up against Anderson for two counts of Murder in the Second Degree.

A jury found her guilty after two hours of deliberations and Anderson was sentenced to 23 years to life behind bars.

Ethan Eslick (L) and Kelly Anderson (R) photos: provided

In a report by NY Daily Record, Anderson’s appellate attorney argued that then-Yates County Judge Jason Cook should not have admitted recordings of wiretapped phone calls obtained with a warrant as evidence because the records infringed on Anderson’s constitutional rights. The appellate attorney also stated Judge Cook erred by allowing testimony about Anderson’s alleged prior abuse of Ethan because the abuse was not established by clear and convincing evidence. The court rejected both claims as well as a claim that Anderson’s trial lawyer, Susan BetzJitomir, was ineffective.

From a press release issued by the Yates County Sheriff’s Office on June 30th, 2020:

Details: On August 29, 2002, Yates County 911 received a report that above victim reported found deceased by his mother Kelly L. Axtell, age 24 at the time (now named Anderson) at 47 Highland Drive, Dundee, NY. At the time in the household was his brother Jordan Eslick age 3, and Kelly’s live-in boyfriend Ronald McGuire Sr. age 28 at the time. The body was sent to the Monroe County Medical Examiner per Coroner for forensic autopsy. The official ruling on the cause of death was not until several months later in 2003 as homicide by asphyxiation. The criminal investigation was extensive, however no arrests were made, and the matter turned into an open cold case.

“In the fall of 2018,” according to CID Lt. Scott Backer, “new leads were developed and Sheriff’s Criminal Investigators enlisted the resources of the NY State Police Troop E – BCI Special Investigations Unit, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Buffalo, NY and the FBI Behavioral Science Unit in Quantico, VA. in continuing this cold case investigation.” Criminalistics and forensic science had developed over the past several years and the Yates County District Attorney’s office enhanced its legal and search warrant applications as well in this case.

“Resources devoted to this case especially by the NY State Police BCI Special Investigations Unit have been exceptional, and we thank them for the collaboration with YCSO Criminal Investigators, especially our lead Inv. Arlyn Cunningham, with dogged determination,” said Sheriff Spike. “This has been a time-consuming matter, that Investigators have remained steadfast on that resulted in District Attorney Todd Casella presenting the matter to a Yates County Grand Jury that returned a sealed indictment June 27, 2020. Anderson was arrested today without incident in Dundee, NY after her return from Florida, and this culminates long overdue justice for Ethan,” said Sheriff Spike who thanked all those involved in this case.

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