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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Cheryl testified that she shot her husband in self-defense following years of abuse and one night of terror
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 25, 2007
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1964
Victim profile: Her husband, Robert McCafferty, 44
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Fort Thomas, Campbell County, Kentucky, USA
Status: Sentenced to 18 years in prison on March 10, 2009
photo gallery

McCafferty agrees to sentencing deal

March 10, 2009

NEWPORT – The Fort Thomas woman convicted of manslaughter for killing her husband agreed to an 18-year sentence Tuesday before jurors could give their input.

As part of a deal, prosecutors did not challenge a defense motion asking the presiding judge to rule that Cheryl McCafferty, 44, was a victim of domestic violence.

That reduces the amount of time McCafferty has to serve before being eligible for parole from 85 percent to 20 percent of the sentence. With credit for the time served awaiting trial since June 25, 2007 counting toward the sentence, McCafferty would be eligible for parole early in 2011.

McCafferty agreed to waive all rights to appeal her conviction.

Campbell Commonwealth’s Attorney Michelle Snodgrass said the family of Robert McCafferty, the victim, went along with to the deal for the sake of the McCafferty children. They didn’t want the case to drag on through the appeals courts or have testimony on the motion requesting the judge find McCafferty suffered abuse, she said.

“It’s over,” Snodgrass said. “As of today, they can start their emotional healing. They can put this stage behind them and move on, and try and figure out how their family moves on from here.”

One of McCafferty’s attorneys, Frank Mungo, echoed Snodgrass’ statement. “No appeals,” he said. “That was a part of the negotiated sentence. It’s final. This is it."

McCafferty’s other attorney, Deanna Dennison, said nobody was a victor at the trial.

“I don’t think the prosecution is a winner neither is the defense a winner in this whole thing,” she said. “I think it’s the best resolution for those children and the best for Cheryl and for all the families involved.”

Juror Jimmy Stephenson said he wasn’t expecting a deal on the sentence before the jury had a chance to make a recommendation. Jurors were at the courthouse Tuesday morning, while the deal was being worked out, and never got a chance to discuss what they though McCafferty’s sentence should be. The conviction carries a sentence of a minimum of 10 years to a maximum of 20.

“I wouldn’t say I’m shocked,” Stephenson said, “but I wasn’t expecting it.”

He said he would have tried to persuade his fellow jurors to recommend the maximum of 20 years.

“That would have been my input,” said Stephenson, of Alexandria. “I can’t speak for everyone else.”

When asked why he felt the maximum was appropriate, he said it was just how he felt after listening to all the evidence. More than 160 pieces of evidence were presented during the trial that started on Feb. 18 with jury selection.

The jury of eight men and four women didn’t buy McCafferty’s claim of self-defense, Stephenson said.

“She said it herself in her testimony,” Stephenson said. “He had been sleeping for at least two hours. She had the gun, many options to get out of the room.”

The violence was not ongoing or immediate, he said. Those are two conditions he says must exist to justify self-defense.

Stephenson refused to comment on whether he believed McCafferty’s testimony that her husband had abused her for 16 years, but he said he also wasn’t convinced the motive was money.

Snodgrass suggested McCafferty’s motive was greed and an alleged obsession with her daughter’s modeling career.

“Why would it be money?” Stephenson said. “They already had a lot of money.”

McCafferty sold advertising for The Cincinnati Enquirer; her husband was a vice president of sales for a medical supply company.

Three other jurors, two of whom live in Fort Thomas, declined to be interviewed. The other eight either couldn’t be reached, or didn’t return calls.

The sentencing left many friends of the family visibly shaken.

Several people cried out “We love you Cheryl,” as McCafferty was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

Cheryl McCafferty’s family declined to speak with reporters as they left. A statement from Robert McCafferty’s family was read by their lawyer, Dave Bender.

“Bob’s family continues to grieve the loss of a wonderful, loving person,” Bender said. “They are thankful for the prayers they have received from friends but still continue to ask for your prayers and support.”

Bob Schmitt lived in the house next door to the McCaffertys’ home on Madonna Place for 34 years and attended the sentencing.

“It is sad,” Schmitt said. “It ruined two families’ lives.”

He was close friends of the McCaffertys. Schmitt didn’t want to discuss Cheryl McCafferty’s guilt or innocence or the trial verdict.

Schmitt said there is a lot about this case that was never made public, though he said he didn’t want to specify what. Many people never came forward, he said.

“Fort Thomas is too worried about its image,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt described Cheryl McCafferty as a great mother. He said his daughter cried thinking about how caring Cheryl McCafferty had been.

“She is good human who was caught up in a terrible situation,” Schmitt said.

Enquirer reporter Scott Wartman contributed to this report.


Jury Finds McCafferty Guilty Of Manslaughter

Ft. Thomas Woman Charged With Murder In Husband's Slaying

Travis Gettys -

March 9, 2009

NEWPORT, Ky. -- After two weeks of testimony and about three and a half hours of deliberations, jurors returned their verdict Monday evening against Cheryl McCafferty.

Jurors found McCafferty guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of her husband, Robert McCafferty, and they will sentence her Tuesday morning.

McCafferty had been charged with murder less than an hour after the June 25, 2007, slaying at the couple’s Fort Thomas home, and jurors opted to convict her on a lesser charge after also being permitted to consider a third, less serious charge of reckless homicide.

During closing arguments earlier in the day, Commonwealth Attorney Michelle Snodgrass told the jury of 10 men and four women that they had a simple test to consider when deciding whether to convict McCafferty of any charges.

If jurors believe McCafferty’s story, Snodgrass said, they must convict her on one count of first degree manslaughter, and if they don’t, she said they must convict her of murder.

The 44-year-old mother of two testified last week that she shot her husband in self-defense following years of abuse and one night of terror.

“Her story doesn’t just doesn’t fit with the evidence,” said Snodgrass, who spent nearly two hours walking jurors back through the crime scene and presenting evidence that she said contradicted McCafferty.

Defense attorney Frank Mungo spent almost 20 minutes telling jurors that McCafferty had been held hostage by her husband and feared for her life, and he said she would not have been charged with a crime if she’d killed a stranger under the same circumstances.

“The only reason we’re in this room is this band of gold,” Mungo said, holding up his own wedding band. “They are husband and wife, (but) where was his ring? On the bedside table. He was a stranger to her that night.”

Mungo said afterward that he kept his closing arguments brief because he’d detected some mental and emotional fatigue among jurors, and hinted that some limitations might have been placed on potential defense strategies.

“We put on the best case that we had,” Mungo said.

Police officers in the courtroom reassembled the bed where McCafferty shot her husband, and Snodgrass climbed onto the mattress and underneath a comforter to act out portions of the defendant’s testimony.

McCafferty testified that her husband had threatened to kill her and their children during an early morning rage before falling asleep with a gun pointed at her side, and she told jurors that she managed to gain control of the weapon before Robert McCafferty awoke and she shot him in fear.

Snodgrass recited some of that testimony, and then climbed onto her hands and knees on the bed and pulled the gun’s trigger, the hammer clicking loudly in the packed courtroom, to demonstrate McCafferty’s testimony.

“Bob didn’t defend himself,” Snodgrass said. “Bob didn’t react and attack.”

Although the headboard remained covered by heavy packing paper and tape, Snodgrass gestured to show how blood spatter analyzed by police and an expert hired by the defense indicated that Robert McCafferty’s head had been lying on two pillows when he was shot.

She also showed jurors five enlarged photos from the crime scene that showed his right hand curled in the same position at several stages during the initial investigation, even after police removed each layer of bedding.

“It’s still in the exact same position,” Snodgrass said.

Mungo told jurors that police improperly collected some evidence, rendering it unreliable, and he reminded them of testimony that suggested the victim could have been awake when he was shot or moved afterward.

“There was more indication of movement than non-movement,” Mungo said.

He blasted prosecutors for their failure to cross-examine McCafferty about her claims of past abuse, but Snodgrass said the defense had not established a pattern of serious abuse – as called for in the statute – but cited only some isolated events.

Snodgrass suggested that McCafferty, who testified that she intended to seek a protection order against her husband and had spoken to a divorce attorney, had planned to kill him in a dispute over her spending habits.

Detective Brad Adams of Fort Thomas police testified Monday morning that McCafferty had taken out $340 cash and made a $200 online fund transfer April 30 during six transactions, and other witnesses – including the defendant – testified that she had charged tens of thousands of dollars in the months prior to the slaying.

Prosecutors had claimed that McCafferty stole several thousand dollars from her husband’s checking account several months after the couple sold some investments to pay off her $40,000 in debt, and Snodgrass said he learned of the thefts shortly before the shooting and revealed them to their children.

“Maybe that exposure was a little more than she could handle,” Snodgrass said. She focused on McCafferty’s testimony about an incident she claims took place a month before the slaying, when she said her husband had flown into a drunken rage, punching her and cutting her with a knife.

McCafferty’s attorney, Keith Gambrel, told police where to find the knife, which experts testified contained evidence of her blood and fingerprints.

“She kept that knife as evidence, but not for a restraining order,” Snodgrass said.

Jurors left the courtroom just before 3 p.m. to begin their deliberations, and Judge Julie Ward dismissed two alternate jurors, including Thomas Younse, of Alexandria.

Younse said he began to doubt McCafferty’s claims of self-defense as the case proceeded, because he said testimony showed too much time had elapsed between Robert McCafferty’s alleged assault on his wife and the shooting.

“I think self-defense was just shot down on the evidence I saw,” Younse said. “I don’t think the threat was there to provide justification to shoot him.”

He said he was surprised the McCaffertys’ teenage children, who were briefly called as prosecution witnesses, were not later called by defense attorneys to provide testimony about prior abuse.

But Younse said, as a father himself, he could understand why they might be shielded from doing so.

Mungo reminded jurors of the way the two children responded to their mother, who often sobbed in court at the mention of their names, as they took the stand to say they had slept through the shooting.

“The two that lost the most got up here and, from across the room, embraced their mother with their eyes, (with) nothing but love,” Mungo said.

McCafferty’s parents, who had been subpoenaed but never called as witnesses, attended the trial together for the first time but left before the verdict was read, and some of her friends, neighbors and other supporters also attended.

Robert McCafferty’s family filled much of the courtroom, which spilled over into an anteroom where some media members were permitted to work, and left together without issuing any formal comments.

“Guilty!” shouted Joan Ferris, a cousin of the victim, as relatives walked past a phalanx of cameras and reporters.

Defense attorneys left without speaking to reporters, and their client was led quickly and silently past the assembled media personnel.

Snodgrass promised to comment following sentencing, but told reporters that it would be inappropriate to comment before jurors made their final decision.

The erstwhile juror Younse, who admitted he was more disappointed than relieved to have been dismissed as an alternate, stayed to hear the verdict read and said he felt some justice had been served by the manslaughter conviction.

“That’s what I was thinking in my gut from the start,” Younse said.


Gun Presented As Evidence In McCafferty Trial

Detective Questioned About Victim's Body, Crime Scene

February 26, 2009

NEWPORT, Ky. - Prosecutors introduced the gun Cheryl McCafferty used to kill her husband, but by the end of the second day of testimony, the defense appeared to have used the weapon to their advantage.

McCafferty maintains that she fatally shot her husband, Robert McCafferty, in self defense during a violent struggle June 25, 2007, at their home.

Sgt. Christopher Carpenter, who collected evidence from the scene, testified Wednesday that the gun contained three live rounds and three empty chambers when police found it covered by a fleece pullover in the couple’s bed.

Police found a spent bullet casing in a bundle of clothes in the closet, where McCafferty said her husband had fired and missed a close-range shot at her, but prosecutors argued that the bullet was not fired immediately before the fatal gunshot.

“If a shot was fired and then a shot was fired at Bob McCafferty’s head, it doesn’t match that scenario,” said assistant prosecutor Vanita Fleckinger.

Carpenter testified that at least one live round was in the chamber before the one that contained the fatal shot, but he agreed with defense attorneys that cocking the hammer without firing the weapon will rotate the revolver cylinder.

During her opening statement Tuesday, defense attorney Deanna Dennison claimed that Robert McCafferty had threatened his wife with the gun before falling asleep with it.

Prosecutors also questioned Fort Thomas police Lt. Jamie Gadzala, who supervised the unit that photographed and collected evidence from the McCafferty home.

Gadzala said his team arrived at the scene with officers around 8:30 a.m. but didn't go into the house until a search warrant was issued sometime before 1 p.m.

An ingress-egress log was entered into evidence to show that the evidence collection unit didn't enter the crime scene until after 1 p.m., more than four hours after police and emergency medical personnel entered the home.

Detective Raymond Metz testified that an unofficial ingress-egress log had been created earlier in the morning, but had been lost, but an official one was created after the warrant was issued.

Morning Testimony

At least two medical personnel touched the body of Robert McCafferty before measurements were taken of the crime scene, a detective testified Wednesday morning during Cheryl McCafferty’s murder trial.

Defense attorneys cross-examined Fort Thomas police Detective Raymond Metz in the second day of testimony.

Metz said emergency medical personnel went inside the home to issue a formal death declaration, although investigators were certain McCafferty was already dead from a single gunshot wound to the head.

Metz said he shot six digital photographs after a reminder by one of the paramedics on the scene June 25, 2007.

“Six is better than none,” said defense attorney Frank Mungo, whose line of questioning has focused on whether proper police procedures were followed during the investigation.

Mungo presented a murder-suicide checklist that police are expected to follow during those investigations, and jurors looked at one another with raised eyebrows when prosecutors raised an objection.

Metz testified that he was not sure whether the checklist was followed as investigators secured the crime scene and collected evidence, which created a stir in the gallery.

However, prosecutors read several items from the checklist and asked if those procedures had been followed, and Metz said each had been.

Defense attorneys took another turn with Metz, who said he regretted having allowed five emergency medical personnel inside the crime scene.

Prosecutors opened the day's testimony by calling Kentucky State Police Forensic Examiner Fred Crane, who testified about fingerprints found on a knife that Cheryl McCafferty said her husband had used to threaten her before the shooting.

Crane testified that he found fingerprints from everyone in the McCafferty family, including both adolescent children, on the knife, but prosecutors said the location of Cheryl McCafferty’s fingerprint suggested she could have held the weapon in a threatening manner.

Defense attorneys asked Crane, who has extensive training in crime scene investigation, to discuss proper methods for securing a crime scene and collecting evidence in an apparent effort to discredit Fort Thomas police.

Prosecutors challenged their line of questioning, saying that Crane could not speak knowledgeably about their policies or actions during the homicide investigation, the department’s first since 1991.

The defense also presented a video taken from the dashboard camera of a police cruiser on the morning that police were called to the home.

The video showed Cheryl McCafferty walking out of the house and speaking to her children and at least one neighbor before police placed her inside an ambulance, where she was examined by a paramedic.

That paramedic testified that McCafferty did not complain of any injuries and that her vital signs were normal, although she appeared to be hysterical.


Detective Is First Witness In McCafferty Trial

February 25, 2009

A Fort Thomas detective was among the first witnesses to take the stand in the high profile murder trial of Cheryl McCafferty today. McCafferty is charged with the shooting her husband Robert to death in June of 2007 as he lay sleeping in the couple's bedroom.

Cheryl McCafferty sat calmly and listened to testimony from a fingerprint expert who says he found Cheryl's fingerprints on a knife in the master bedroom. The expert admitted he couldn't say when she touched it or who else may have handled the knife.

Fort Thomas police hauled in boxes of evidence. Then Detective Raymond Metz testified. Under cross-examination from the defense, Detective Metz said that Fort Thomas EMT crews moved Robert McCafferty's arms and removed his t-shirt before all but the first six crime scene photos were taken and before any measurements were taken at the crime scene. He said they did this to check to see if Robert McCafferty was dead.

Detective Metz also testified that a log of who came and went from the crime scene that morning has been misplaced.

Testimony continues this afternoon.

Yesterday in opening statements, prosecutors told the jury that Cheryl was a murderer and that she fulfilled her marriage vows by making sure "that it was until death do us part". Prosecutors say their evidence will show that there was no struggle at the scene and that Robert McCafferty was not killed in self defense.

Rather, they say Cheryl McCafferty had personal and financial reasons for killing her husband, including massive credit card debts and checks which she'd forged and which Robert recently discovered.

Cheryl's defense attorneys, in their opening statements, told the jury that if money had been an issue, it would have been pointless for Cheryl to kill Robert, who was making $300,000 a year. Rather they say, Cheryl was the victim of abuse who wanted a divorce and was trying to get a restraining order against her husband. They say she endured years of physical abuse and that a month before his murder, Robert held a knife to Cheryl.

Cameras have been banned from the courtroom but Local 12 Reporter Joe Webb is sitting in on testimony and will have updates throughout the day.

Cheryl McCafferty has been in jail since her arrest on a million dollars bond.


Prosecution To Continue Building Case Against McCafferty

Prosecutors Say Spending, Family Issues Led To Shooting

By Travis Gettys -

February 24, 2009

NEWPORT, Ky. -- The second day of the Cheryl McCafferty murder trial will feature more witnesses for the prosecution.

On the opening day of the trial on Tuesday, prosecutors said that in the months before she shot her husband to death, Cheryl McCafferty developed an interest in another high-profile local murder case.

Assistant Campbell Commonwealth’s Attorney Vanita Fleckinger told jurors during opening arguments Tuesday that the Fort Thomas woman used her computer to look up information about the 2006 slaying of Bob Bosley, whose wife accepted a plea agreement and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors said McCafferty became obsessed with her daughter becoming a model and had run up nearly $80,000 in credit card debt in 2006 and 2007, which they said strained her marriage with Robert McCafferty.

Defense attorneys said McCafferty made the charges to pay for clothing and school-related activities for the couple’s two adolescent children, rather than luxury items for herself, and that Robert McCafferty had written cards that expressed pride in his daughter’s interest in modeling.

Defense attorney Deanna Dennison also said her client would take the stand to explain why she searched for information about Amy Bosley.

“Cheryl McCafferty knows what she looked up, and why,” said Dennison, whose opening statements were frequently interrupted by prosecutors’ objections.

Picture-Perfect Marriage Anything But That, Attorney Says

Dennison said her client had sought a divorce from Robert McCafferty, whom she described as a man so interested in presenting a perfect image to the world that he used violence to enforce his will behind closed doors.

“Everything appeared perfect outside, but living inside 70 Madonna was not,” Dennison said.

Cheryl McCafferty called 911 in the early morning hours of June 25, 2007, to report that she had shot and killed her husband, and prosecutors said they would use phone records to show that she had called her mother shortly before alerting authorities.

McCafferty has maintained that she shot her husband in self-defense, and Dennison spent much of her opening statements speaking in first person from her client’s perspective, the attorney’s voice sometimes cracking as she described a violent struggle between the McCaffertys in the pre-dawn hours.

Cheryl McCafferty, who had looked down at a photo of her children throughout much of the proceedings, nervously jiggling one leg and clutching a prayer card, sobbed audibly as Dennison relayed her account.

Prosecutors said evidence gathered from the scene did not support McCafferty’s claims of self-defense, but Fleckinger admitted that Fort Thomas police made some errors investigating the city’s first homicide since 1991.

Defense attorneys said they believed that Robert McCafferty’s body had been moved before crime-scene photographs were taken, which Dennison said supported her client’s claim of a struggle over the handgun used in the slaying.

“They didn’t follow their own policies and procedures,” Dennison reminded jurors. “They made some mistakes, (and) it causes the crime scene not to be reliable.”

Officer Says Children Never Questioned Police Presence

Three of the first four witnesses called to testify were Fort Thomas police officers, including Chris Goshorn, the first officer to arrive on the scene.

The 14-year veteran described how he and another officer arrived to find Cheryl McCafferty walking outside the Madonna Place home with a blanket wrapped around herself, speaking to a dispatcher by phone.

Goshorn said he told McCafferty to drop the blanket and phone and keep her hands within clear view, and he said she complied before falling to the ground, where she curled into a fetal position and began sobbing.

Officers went inside the home, where McCafferty said her husband and children remained.

Goshorn testified that officers told both children, 15-year-old Molly and 12-year-old Patrick, to remain in their own beds until police finished searching the home.

Officers found Robert McCafferty in bed with a single gunshot wound to the head and a handgun wrapped inside a fleece garment near his body, Goshorn testified.

Police then escorted the children outside, but Goshorn said he was unsettled when Molly McCafferty asked if she could scoop up her dog, which ran past as they were leaving.

“At that point neither child had asked where there parents were or what we were doing there,” Goshorn said.

Both children began to cry as they approached their mother sitting at the end of their driveway, and all three hugged as Cheryl McCafferty explained what had happened.

“Her mother stated, ‘Your dad tried to kill me and I shot him,’” Goshorn testified.

Goshorn said he helped McCafferty into his cruiser shortly before her parents arrived and asked if they could check on her.

The officer said he allowed McCafferty’s parents to briefly hug their daughter inside the cruiser but turned away a neighbor.

McCafferty repeatedly asked to speak to Lt. Mark Dill, a family friend and Fort Thomas public information officer, but Goshorn said she never spoke to him.

Defense attorneys focused their cross-examination of police on whether proper procedures had been followed when officers arrived.

Attorney Frank Mungo questioned whether officers should have allowed McCafferty to remove the blanket from the home, which police said was considered a crime scene when they arrived.

Mungo also said some evidence may have been transferred when the McCafferty children hugged their mother, citing positive tests that indicated the presence of gunshot residue tests for all three.

Robert McCafferty also tested positive for the presence of gunshot residue, which defense attorneys said supported Cheryl McCafferty’s claim that he had fired a gun close to her head during a struggle about an hour before his fatal shooting.

Shooting Followed Early Morning Struggle For Gun, Attorney Says

Cheryl McCafferty told investigators her husband had tried to force the barrel of the Colt .38 into her mouth hours after he had become enraged at their daughter during a trip to Radio Shack.

The quarrel lasted throughout the course of the day, and Cheryl McCafferty said she awoke sometime in the middle of the night to find her husband straddling her and holding a firearm.

“You need to kill yourself, you’re not worth it, you’re not worth it to our family,” Dennison said McCafferty told his wife. “You need to kill yourself, it’ll make things easier. Why’d you tell?”

Robert McCafferty struck his wife with the gun’s handle and then fired a shot, Dennison said.

He eventually got into bed with the gun and all the home’s phones on his nightstand, Dennison said, and fell asleep.

Dennison said Cheryl McCafferty lay down next to him but feared what would happen when the home’s noisy sprinkler system began as scheduled at 6 a.m., so she felt around underneath the covers for the gun.

“She’s not going to leave the room without that gun,” Dennison said, as her client sobbed quietly in the courtroom.

Robert McCafferty awoke as his wife found for the weapon, Dennison said, and Cheryl McCafferty fired it once.

“It was between him and her, and she had the gun,” Dennison said.


Dispute grounds McCafferty trial

TV stations challenge ban on cameras, recording devices

By Scott Wartman and Jim Hannah -

February 23, 2009

NEWPORT – Cheryl McCafferty’s trial stopped before it started on Monday as several television stations and Campbell Circuit Court Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward sparred over whether to allow live broadcasting of testimony and live blogging of the trial.

Ward on Monday banned all cameras and recording devices from the courtroom other than a pen and paper, which came as a shock to the local stations and two national networks that had already set up to record the trial.

The judge said McCafferty’s trial for the shooting death of her husband will get under way Tuesday.

Attorneys for WLWT (Ch. 5), WCPO (Ch. 9)and WXIX (Ch. 19) said they would appeal Tuesday morning the ban on cameras and recording devices to the Kentucky Court of Appeals and hope for the court to intercede today or Wednesday, said Jill Meyer, an attorney representing the stations in the action.

An appeals court could decide to further delay the trial, Meyer said.

“There is no compelling interest for the court to allow the cameras to be kicked out,” Meyer said.

WKRC is not part of the appeal, according to an e-mail from its news director, Elbert Tucker.

The debate over media access arose after Meyer, on behalf of WLWT, WCPO and WXIX, filed a motion opposing the ban on blogging and live broadcasting during the trial. Meyer said they learned over the weekend about Ward’s prohibition on live blogging and broadcasting of testimony.

Ward responded by banning all cameras and electronic recording devices from the courtroom, including laptops.

Ward said she feared live broadcasting of trial testimony would allow witnesses to hear the court proceedings before they testify. Witnesses are typically ordered by judges to not attend or listen to trial proceedings so as not to influence their testimony.

“You are welcome to bring a pad and pen,” Ward said to the members of the media at the hearing. “I’m not doing any more restrictions on the media than on anyone else in the trial. This protects her right to a fair trial.”

“Dateline NBC” and CBS’ “48 Hours” had sent cameras and crews to Newport to record McCafferty’s trial for alter broadcast. The local stations wanted to broadcast the proceedings on the Internet sites.

“Dateline NBC” had set up three cameras in Ward’s courtroom and fed the signal to a small room on the third floor of the courthouse. The Dateline cameras were supposed to feed the footage to the rest of the media.

Producers with “Dateline NBC” and “48 Hours” wouldn’t comment.

Ira Sutow, a producer with “48 Hours,” argued in a hearing Monday before Ward that “Dateline” and “48 Hours” wouldn’t air their pieces on McCafferty’s trial until it ends. Ward, however, said an appeals court might overturn her order if she favored one type of recording and not another.

The ban on blogging and live video from the courtroom would set a dangerous precedent, said WCPO news director Bob Morford.

“If the media said OK to that, we would never be able to cover another court case ever with anything other than paper and a pen,” Morford said. “I think the judge is smart enough to know that, so I don’t know why, therefore, she would make this claim.”

Enquirer attorney Jack Greiner said the ban on still photography during the trial didn’t seem to relate to any concerns Ward expressed about influencing witnesses’ testimony. The ban on laptops and digital recording equipment also unnecessarily inhibits the ability of reporters to do their jobs. Both are tools reporters routinely use to gather news.

More than 80 people had waited outside for the trial to begin on Monday. McCafferty, 44, faces life in prison if found guilty of murder. Investigators say she fatally shot her husband, Robert McCafferty, 44, in their Fort Thomas home on June 25, 2007.

She has been held in the Campbell County jail since the day of the shooting in lieu of $1 million bail.

The media coverage of the killing and upcoming trial plus the issues surrounding allegations of domestic abuse in the case had brought many curious people to the trial in addition to the media and family members.

“I’m surprised at the national attention,” said Jim Lampe, Robert McCafferty’s cousin, who was waiting outside the courtroom for the trial to begin.

The charged atmosphere and media presence surrounding the trial trumps any other trial Campbell County Clerk Jack Snodgrass can remember. His office is on the first floor of the courthouse.

“This is as big a trial as I’ve seen here,” Snodgrass said. “Every local station and two national media organizations are here. There is a lot of interest in this.”

Some, with no personal connection to the family, said they wanted to see how the legal process worked. Many wouldn’t give their names.

Karen Berney, of Southgate, waited patiently outside the courtroom and talked to Cheryl McCafferty’s parents on Monday. Berney worked as an advocate for battered women for 15 years when she lived in San Diego and said she wanted to attend the trial to support Cheryl McCafferty.

“I just hope it is fair,” Berney said. “I hope evidence she was abused will be presented.”

Lampe said Cheryl McCafferty didn’t have to shoot her husband.

“There were problems in the home but there were less drastic means to resolve them,” Lampe said.

Case timeline

June 25, 2007: Cheryl McCafferty calls 911 and tells a dispatcher she has killed her husband, Robert. She is taken into custody and charged later in the day with murder.

June 26, 2007: At Cheryl McCafferty's initial court appearance, the audience is stunned when Robert McCafferty's brother asks a Campbell County judge to lower bond for his sister-in-law. The judge refuses, and Cheryl McCafferty remains locked up at the Campbell County jail in lieu of the $1 million bond.

June 27, 2007: Investigators return to the McCaffertys' home on Madonna Place and remove additional evidence, including a kitchen knife found in a closet, bedding, two baseball bats, greeting cards to and from Robert McCafferty, and paperwork from a safe.

June 28, 2007: A Campbell County grand jury indicts Cheryl McCafferty on one count of murder, a charge that could send her to prison for life. Children are put in custody of their maternal grandparents.

Oct. 3, 2008: Cheryl McCafferty's attorneys - Deanna Dennison, Frank Mungo and Keith Gambrel - file the single most sensational item yet to be discussed in court. It is a motion that, in graphic detail, describes alleged abuse by Robert McCafferty toward his children and wife.

Feb. 18: After concerns that an impartial jury couldn't be seated in Campbell County, 12 jurors and two alternates are sworn in after questioning of just the first 34 people in a jury pool of nearly 300.


McCafferty likely to claim self-defense

By Jim Hannah -

January 26, 2009

NEWPORT – Cheryl McCafferty cannot claim battered wife syndrome – or any other mental health deficiency – when defending herself against charges she killed her husband.

McCafferty faces up to life in prison if found guilty of murder at a trial set to Feb. 23 in Campbell Circuit Court. It is expected to last at least three weeks.

McCafferty, 44, has been held in the Campbell County jail in lieu of $1 million bond since June 25, 2007, the day investigators say she called 911 and said she killed Robert McCafferty, a 44-year-old medical supply salesman.

She will likely claim self defense at the trial, Campbell Commonwealth’s Attorney Michelle Snodgrass said during a motion hearing this afternoon.

McCafferty’s lead defense attorney, Deanna Dennison, will not say what her strategy is for trial, but she would have already had to notify the court if she was seeking a mental deficiency defense.

Dennison likely passed on that defense because it would allow prosecutors to have their own mental health expert examine McCafferty, Snodgrass said during the hearing.

The hearing was to determine what alleged spousal abuse or other violent acts McCafferty can testify to at trial.

They include allegations that Robert McCafferty attempted to suffocate his wife with a pillow in 2007, hit her in the stomach with a fireplace poker and tried to drown her in a toilet bowl in 2006.

The allegations begin with the mention of one instance that allegedly occurred in 1993. While the couple was on vacation in Hawaii, Cheryl McCafferty claims, her husband slammed her into a wall and then forcefully shoved shaving cream up her nose, into her eyes and in her mouth, temporarily blinding her.

Snodgrass is opposing introducing any such evidence.

Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward is expected to make a ruling Wednesday on the issues.


McCafferty pleads not guilty

Judge declines to lower $1M bond for Cheryl McCafferty

By Jim Hannah -

July 11, 2007

NEWPORT - The McCafferty children sat in the middle of a packed courtroom Tuesday as their mother pleaded not guilty to a charge of killing their father.

Molly McCafferty, 15, and her 12-year-old brother, Patrick, said nothing as they walked past reporters, including a producer for CBS News in New York.

Molly has posted a series of messages on the Internet since the homicide.

"It's all so unreal. I want my mom back. That's all," was the message posted on her page after the hearing.

Molly and Patrick didn't get a chance to say hello to their mother, Cheryl McCafferty, during the arraignment in Campbell Circuit Court. The 43-year-old Enquirer advertising account executive appeared via closed-circuit television from a county jail cell.

Cheryl McCafferty has been jailed in lieu of a $1 million bond since June 25. That is when authorities claim she shot her husband, Robert McCafferty, once in the forehead while he lay in his bed at the family's Madonna Place home in Fort Thomas.

Commonwealth's Attorney Jack Porter said there is evidence showing Robert was asleep when he was shot with a .38-caliber Colt Special.

During the hearing, Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward denied a request to reduce Cheryl McCafferty's $1 million bond. Defense lawyer Deanna Dennison had asked the judge if her client could offer $180,000 cash and $245,000 in property as bond and be placed on house arrest.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Michelle Snodgrass said that a $1 million bond was in line with what other homicide suspects had been held on in the past. Amy Bosley, a mother of two, was also held in lieu of a $1 million bond while she was being tried on a charge she fatally shot her husband in their southern Campbell County home in 2005.

Dennison said she would appeal the judge's decision.

"I don't care about the precedent of bond in other cases," she said. "I only care about this case."

Molly, who is living with her brother at their maternal grandparents' home in Erlanger, was caught trying to break into the family home this past weekend, Snodgrass said. A burglar alarm sounded as she tried to enter the home without a proper set of keys.

Investigators released the home back to the family after spending several days collecting evidence.

Robert McCafferty's estate had changed the locks, apparently without the knowledge of Molly, Snodgrass said.

The estate also has taken control of Robert McCafferty's checking account, 2003 Toyota Sequoia and a 2001 24-foot Sea Ray boat, according to records filed in Probate Court. Robert McCafferty's last will and testament calls for all his assets to go to his wife.

In the event of Robert and Cheryl's death, the will called for a trust to be established in the children's names.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for July 18 at the Campbell County Courthouse.


In-laws: Victim violent to wife

Robert McCafferty's charming exterior called a deception

By Jim Hannah -

June 28, 2007

FORT THOMAS - The public Robert McCafferty was charming, fun loving and, at times, great to be around. The 44-year-old salesman had a 24-foot Sea Ray boat and a putting green in the backyard.

McCafferty's happy-go-lucky public persona was in stark contrast to his death Monday.

Investigators found McCafferty dead in his bed with one gunshot to the head in his Madonna Place home. Near him was a .38-caliber Colt Special. A few hours later his wife of 18 years, Cheryl McCafferty, 43, was charged with first-degree murder.

But behind closed doors, the McCaffertys' home had been filled with violence for years, said Cheryl McCafferty's sister, Jill Provenzano, 35, of Newtown, Pa., on a Cincinnati.Com message board.

Robert McCafferty had another side no one knew about because "he was extremely worried about appearances and his reputation," said Provenzano, who met Robert McCafferty when she was 6 years old growing up in Fort Thomas.

Jill Provenzano and her ex-husband, John Provenzano, said Robert McCafferty often beat his wife and children.

"It was only his devoted wife that hid the bruises and verbal abuse to try and keep things together," said John Provenzano, 41, of Bucks County, Pa., on the Web site. The Enquirer confirmed that they posted the messages.

He said he is ashamed he always wanted to be like Robert McCafferty, who was best man at his wedding.

"The picture I have of (Robert McCafferty) at my wedding is now face down on my desk," he said. "May God have mercy on (Robert McCafferty's) soul."

There was a glimpse into the McCaffertys' private lives Sunday when someone called 911 to report domestic trouble at their home.

Someone other than Robert or Cheryl McCafferty called 911 shortly after 2 p.m. to report a "domestic situation," Fort Thomas police Lt. Mark Dill said.

The department hasn't released the caller's name.

Cheryl McCafferty, an Enquirer advertising account executive, and her teenage son met officers half a block from the house, standing on the sidewalk. They told officers everything was fine, Dill said.

The officer decided not to investigate further and did not fill out a report, take statements or interview the third party.

Domestic violence is a misdemeanor charge and Kentucky police officers can make an arrest without witnessing the crime or having a warrant, said Mary Savage, legal counsel for the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association in Frankfort. Officers still need probable cause, concrete facts or reliable information that a crime has been committed.

State regulations require a police department to have a domestic violence law enforcement procedure. While the policies can vary greatly among departments, the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services posts a model policy on its Web site. It says officers can't arrest someone "on a hunch."

Dill said he agreed with his department's policy for responding to domestic violence calls. It allows officers the discretion to decide whether to make an arrest.

"Obviously, if (Cheryl McCafferty) wasn't at the residence, there wasn't a problem at the residence between the husband and wife," Dill said, "so there was nothing further to investigate at that point and time."

He said one important factor in making that decision was the 911 call was placed by someone other than the couple.

Dill didn't release the name of the responding officer or officers but said it wasn't himself. Dill was a close friend of Robert McCafferty and spent a weekend with the couple at Norris Lake, Tenn., a week before the shooting.

Dill, who has taken the rest of the week off from work, said he isn't involved in the investigation to avoid the perception of wrongdoing.

"I've intentionally stayed away from the details," Dill said.

Fort Thomas has not responded to a request for copies of any office reports taken at the couple's address since January. The county's unified emergency dispatch center also hasn't responded to a similar request for copies of any emergency calls made from the home.

Robert McCafferty, who sold medical supplies for Sage Products of Cary, Ill., had no felony criminal record. There are no records in the Campbell County courthouse of Cheryl McCafferty seeking a protective order against her husband.

Just as Robert McCafferty may have led a double life, so do many abusers, said Sharlene Graham Lassiter, a professor of law at Northern Kentucky University's Chase College of Law.

"Domestic violence happens behind closed doors," said Lassiter, who teaches a domestic violence law seminar and a class in domestic violence prosecution and trial at Chase. "But people tend to judge a person's character by a limited amount of information - how they interact outside the home and in very limited settings."

Although authorities have not yet confirmed a motive for Robert McCafferty's killing, Lassiter said the descriptions offered by the Provenzanos "are absolutely typical" of many batterers. In public, abusers often are charming, highly functioning individuals, she said.

"They can charm the socks off of you, and that can be very disarming to people who don't know what questions to ask or what to look for," Lassiter said.

However, in private, abusers exert their power and control over their spouse and children through various pressures - from economic to physical to sexual, Lassiter said.


Slaying, wife's arrest stun quiet suburb

Neighbors, friends, golfing buddies can't figure out what led to shooting

By Amanda Van Benschoten -

June 26, 2007

FORT THOMAS - An early morning shooting and a wife's arrest Monday turned a normally sedate Northern Kentucky cul-de-sac into this suburb's first homicide scene in nearly two decades.

Cheryl McCafferty is expected to appear in Campbell District Court this morning on a first-degree murder charge in the death of her husband Robert McCafferty.

The couple has two teenagers who were home at the time of the shooting but not injured, police said.

Cheryl McCafferty, a 43-year-old Enquirer account executive, spent Monday night locked up at the county jail without bond as investigators stayed late into the night removing evidence from the family's brick ranch house.

As word of Robert McCafferty's death spread, men in suits and ties ran down Madonna Place to find out if it was true - that their golfing buddy had died of a single gunshot to the head.

The narrow roadway was blocked by police cruisers and cars were left at the entrance to the street. The men were greeted by law enforcement officials and many exchanged bear hugs as they fought back tears.

Fort Thomas Police Lt. Mark Dill responded to the home of his childhood friend shortly after 8 a.m. Monday after Cheryl McCafferty called 911 and said a man was shot in the home.

"Obviously, I didn't see this coming," Dill said. "I didn't think anyone did."

The wife's remarks to 911 operators and to the first officers on the scene were among the evidence used to arrest her, Dill said.

He would not speculate on a motive.

"I wish I did know what happened," said Dill. "We are processing the scene for evidence to try to determine that."

Fort Thomas police requested help from an Erlanger police expert in gathering blood evidence and from Boone County Sheriff's crime scene investigators. A search warrant states investigators were looking for firearms, bullets, cartridges, fabric containing evidence, computer equipment and life insurance policies.

The couple's son and daughter were taken from the home after investigators arrived. They were staying with relatives Monday night.

Cheryl McCafferty was taken to St. Luke Hospital East for evaluation for several hours Monday afternoon before being driven to the jail, Dill said.

Throughout the day, neighbors gathered on their front porches, children arrived on bikes and teen-agers cruised by in cars. All said they were shocked.

The family was active in the community and the house was known for the landscaped putting green in the backyard that reflected Robert McCafferty's love of golf.

He had told The Enquirer in a 2005 story that he had dreamed of installing the green since he was a teenager growing up in the house.

McCafferty, who sold medical supplies for a living, had remodeled and doubled the size of the house after buying it from his parents in 1991.

The neighborhood of manicured lawns and mature oak trees is home to generations of Fort Thomas families. A home on the cul-de-sac is on the market for $380,000 and former Campbell County Judge-executive Lambert Hehl lives on the street. Monday, an American flag flew from the McCaffertys' porch and a statue of an angel was nestled in the shrubs.

The McCaffertys were well-liked, according to friends. They were honored by the Fort Thomas Education Foundation last fall for making a large donation to the renovation of Highlands High School.

"They're great people, wonderful people," said Gary Hallman, who lives across the street. "I just can't believe it happened."

Next-door neighbor Mary Ann Jenkins agreed. "This is incomprehensible," she said.

Police had been called to the house the day before but left after assurances that there was no problem. Dill said someone from outside the home called police about a "domestic situation" shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday. Cheryl McCafferty and her son met officers on the sidewalk and told them everything was fine, Dill said. No police report was filed.

Cheryl McCafferty's lawyer, Keith Gambrel, left a message through his secretary at his Newport office that he wasn't speaking with reporters.

This is the second death in the family in three weeks. Robert McCafferty's mother, Virginia "Tep" Witemure McCafferty, died June 3 at St. Luke Hospice Care Center.

A man who answered the phone at the home of Richard McCafferty, Robert's father, declined comment except to say Robert "was great."


Fort Thomas wife charged

By Amanda Van Benschoten -

June 25, 2007

FORT THOMAS - Bob McCafferty, 44, was found shot to death around 8 a.m. today in his Fort Thomas home. Less than seven hours later, his wife was charged with murder.

Cheryl McCafferty, 43, was charged with murder around 2:30 p.m. today. Fort Thomas Police Lt. Mark Dill said the charge stemmed from evidence that included a 911 call she made and statements she gave to police at the crime scene.

He said police continue to investigate the crime, including a possible motive. Officers were called to the couple's home on Sunday afternoon in response to an argument, but Dill said Cheryl McCafferty met them in the street and said everything was fine.

Shortly after she was charged with the murder today, she was taken to St. Luke Hospital East in Fort Thomas for evaluation. She was taken to the Campbell County jail around 6 p.m. and is expected to appear in court Tuesday morning.

Her attorney, Keith Gambrel, declined to comment on the case.

Bob McCafferty was found shot to death at 8 a.m. today in the couple's home in the 100 block of Madonna Place. His body remained there as of 5 p.m. while police finished their investigation.

The couple's teenage son and daughter, who were home during the shooting, are in the custody of family members.

Neighbors and friends of the couple gathered at their ranch home today.

“They were wonderful people,” said next-door neighbor Mary Ann Jenkins. “This is incomprehensible.”

Bob McCafferty was an avid golfer who worked in the health care sales industry and was well-liked in the community, according to friends and neighbors. Cheryl McCafferty has worked in advertising sales for the Enquirer since 2005.



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