CRIMINAL COURT: Kelly Anderson, Amy Wetmore sentenced to prison

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express

PENN YAN — In Yates County Criminal Court Tuesday, Sept. 21, Kelly Anderson was sentenced to 23 years to life in prison by Judge Jason Cook for the murder of her toddler son in 2002. 

That same day, Amy Wetmore received up to nine years in concurrent sentences on her three convictions for grand larceny, forgery, and fraud against the elderly residents of St. Mark's Terrace. She must also pay over $108,000 in restitution to her victims.


ANDERSON

Mother sentenced to 23 years to life for murder of her toddler son in 2002.

Kelly Anderson

A Yates County jury returned a verdict of guilty June 9 in the trial of Kelly (Axtell) Anderson for the intentional murder of her 16-month-old son, Ethan Eslick. 

Jordan and Ethan Eslick in 2002.

According to Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike, on Aug. 29, 2002, sheriff’s deputies received a report that Ethan had been found dead by his mother, Kelly, then 24, at 47 Highland Drive in the village of Dundee. The only other people present in the apartment at the time were Ethan’s 3-year-old brother Jordan, who was uninjured, and Kelly’s live-in boyfriend, Ronald McGuire Sr., then age 28. Ethan’s body was sent to the Monroe County Medical Examiner for a forensic autopsy, but the official ruling on the cause of death as homicide by asphyxiation was not made until several months later in 2003.

After the case lay dormant as a cold case until March 2018, YCSO investigators presented it to the newly elected Yates County District Attorney Todd Casella. Assistance was then sought from the New York State Police Special Investigations Unit, the FBI and its Behavioral Analysis Unit, becoming a coordinated effort among all agencies and the District Attorney’s Office to uncover what and who had caused Ethan’s death. After obtaining an “eavesdropping warrant,” 90 days of wiretapping Anderson’s phone, and four days of grand jury presentations in June 2020, an indictment was secured against Anderson for two counts of second-degree murder (class C violent felony) for the death of her son. McGuire was also investigated, but Casella says there was not enough evidence to support an indictment.

The jury of eight women and four men heard testimony from 24 prosecution witnesses over the course of four days, including two pathologists, a DNA expert, a serologist (bodily fluids expert), the Yates County Sheriff’s Office original investigators, and Ethan’s older brother, Jordan, who was asleep in the same room when Ethan was murdered. 

Anderson took the stand herself as the only defense witness in the trial. Questioned by her attorney, Susan Betzjitomir of Bath, she denied killing Ethan or knowing who did or knowing how he died.

Anderson repeated that stance of innocence in her pre-sentencing interviews. She made no statement in court to Cook before he passed sentence, sadly commenting that Ethan was murdered in the one place a child is meant to be safe, and by the one person a child should always be able to trust.

Casella said after court, "This was an emotional case for me. I'm happy there is finally closure for the family – I'm happy it's done."


WETMORE

Former St. Mark’s Terrace employee stole from and defrauded seven residents plus three others.

Amy Wetmore

Previously in Yates County Criminal Court July 8, Amy Wetmore (formerly MacKerchar) entered a guilty plea to second-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, and second-degree forgery in full satisfaction of the 54-count indictment brought against her for a series of thefts and fraud targeting residents of St. Mark’s Terrace during a time when Wetmore was the director of the Enriched Housing Program. 

Wetmore’s guilty plea before Judge Cook was a plea bargain, and she was sentenced Sept. 21 as promised to three to nine years on the second-degree grand larceny, two to six years on the second-degree forgery, and one to three years on the first-degree scheme to defraud, all served concurrently. She was also ordered to pay $108,367.80 in restitution to her victims or their estates, the Enriched Hosing Program, and the New York State Treasury 

Wetmore was originally arrested in September 2020 on just nine felonies and two misdemeanors for allegedly stealing money from 10 elderly residents of Penn Yan she was entrusted to help. Casella said Wetmore took undue advantage of seven residents of St. Mark’s Terrace as well as three other victims. Upon learning of the charges, the St. Mark’s Terrace board responded by suspending Wetmore from her position, and improving their internal controls over finances to prevent such a thing from happening again. She was later terminated from her job.

Wetmore apologized in her pre-sentence interviews and said she was driven to crime by her addiction to opioid drugs.