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Defense rests case without testimony from key witness, Jenna Nelulander

March 15, 2022

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — In an unexpected turn of events on Monday, the defense in the second Neulander trial rested their case without calling Jenna Neulander, Robert and Leslie Neulanders’ daughter, to the stand.

Jenna is a key witness as she was the only other person in the house on the day of her mother’s death and she was the one who called 911.

The defense rested their case on Monday after calling doctors, medical experts, and even Ari Neulander, Robert and Leslie’s son, to the stand to testify that Leslie’s death was accidental.

Just as she did in 2015, Jenna Neulander has shown up to support her father as he stands trial for the death of his wife.

Most days she could be seen walking Robert to the courtroom.

Jenna’s voice was heard in court early in the case as the prosecution played the chilling 911 call she made from the Neulanders’ home on the day Leslie died.

But on Monday the defense team, led by Lawyer Jonathan Bach, rested their case without calling her as a witness.

CNY Central asked Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick how he felt about the decision on his way out of the courtroom Monday.

“Obviously, I can’t comment on the trial,” said Fitzpatrick. “Judge Miller gave both sides a fair trial, and the defense team was professional and ethical, and we’ll see what the jury decides.”

Tully Rinckey Lawyer, Peter Pullano discussed the defense’s decision, saying “Do we call a witness, or do we comment on the fact that the prosecution did not call them. It very well may be their argument, ‘hey the prosecution’s got the burden of proof and the closest thing they had to an eye-witness, and they never even called her.’”

“They’ve got, you know, conflicting experts on the cause of death, but they have the facts they have,” said Pullano. “And the prosecution’s going to argue when it’s all said and done, that that is proof beyond a reasonable doubt and you’re going to see the defense pointing to the doubt and thinking and arguing that would be a not-guilty verdict.”

There will be no action in the case on Tuesday and closing arguments are expected to begin on Wednesday.

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