Christopher Conley guilty of trying to kill daughter with drain cleaner

  • Christopher Conley stands as the jury reads its verdict, flanked by his attorneys Jack Godleski, left, and Mark H. Bluver. STAFF PHOTO/MICHAEL CONNORS

  • Christopher W. Conley of Northampton listens to testimony on Feb. 5 during his trial for attempted murder and other charges in Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Mark H. Bluver, one of Christopher Conley’s attorneys, speaks Friday after his client was found guilty of attempted murder. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • First Assistant District Attorney Steven Gagne and Assistant District Attorney Linda Pisano speak after Christopher Conley was found guilty of attempted murder Friday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 2/21/2020 1:40:34 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A Hampshire Superior Court jury found Christopher Conley guilty Friday of trying to kill his ill 7-year-old daughter by injecting her with drain cleaner and then overdosing her with painkillers in April 2015.

Conley, 37, of Northampton, was found guilty on all three counts: attempted murder, assault and battery on a child by means of a dangerous weapon (opiates), and assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury.

As the jury forewoman read aloud in court its unanimous verdict, Conley was stoic as he stood next to his attorneys, Mark H. Bluver of Greenfield and Jack Godleski. After the jury was escorted out, Judge Richard Carey revoked Conley’s bail and court officers handcuffed him. At least once during the less than 10-minute proceeding, Conley turned to his girlfriend seated in the gallery and appeared to mouth the words “I love you.”

The verdict capped an almost three-week trial that heard testimony from medical professionals, members of law enforcement and Conley. The jury, who began deliberating around noon Thursday, found Conley guilty of injecting Liquid-Plumr in his daughter's cecostomy tube on April 15, 2015 and then overdosing her on painkillers. Doctors had to remove over 6 feet of her intestines and a a third of her bladder in successive surgeries, and she was discharged from the hospital in February 2016. 

Jurors were shown Conley’s emotional, three-hour confession to police from May 20, 2015 in which he admitted to poisoning his daughter to try to end her suffering from existing medical conditions. Throughout the trial, Conley’s attorneys tried to  show it  was a false confession and that the girl’s injuries were not caused by drain cleaner, but were instead the result of low blood flow due to blood clots. Conley took the witness stand Wednesday and testified that his confession was false.

After Conley’s conviction, Assistant District Attorney Linda Pisano said she was “thrilled” with the verdict.

“I think it must have been a really hard job for the jury,” she said. “The child got some justice today and I think that’s important.”

First Assistant District Attorney Steven Gagne said he was thankful for the jury’s service and said that he was glad they “saw through the untruths that were presented to them.” He said the case was a “true team effort” by investigators and medical professionals, including Dr. Doruk Ozgediz, the girl’s surgeon from 2015 who testified during the trial.

“(Ozgediz) not only literally saved her life back in 2015, but was a major part of obtaining justice for her now five years later,” Gagne said. “He’s the real hero in this case.”

Pisano said the prosecution was “just starting to talk about” a sentencing recommendation for Conley, adding that he faces a maximum 20-year sentence on the attempted murder conviction and 15-year maximums on the other two convictions, which she said could each be served consecutively. Gagne said prosecutors will be consulting with sentencing guidelines.

“It’s going to be a sentence that we think is commensurate with the injuries that he caused,” Gagne said.

Minutes after Conley’s conviction, Bluver said outside of the courtroom that he was “disappointed and surprised” at the verdict.

“I think we gave the jury numerous inconsistencies, numerous places where there was sufficient reasonable doubt,” Bluver said. “I have faith in juries but I find this one difficult to completely understand.”

Bluver said he doesn’t yet know what sentence he will recommend for Conley, adding the defense will “think about it over the weekend.”

Godleski, Conley’s other attorney, said that although he did not “want to sound disrespectful,” he believed the jury made the wrong decision. 

“I don’t think he did it,” Godleski said. “I’ve spent hours and hours and hours talking to that man. And, you know, people lie to me all the time. I don’t think he did it.”

“Right now I’m second-guessing if I could have done something differently,” he said. “I haven’t figured it out yet, but it’s going to be a long night of wondering what I should have done differently.”

Conley’s ex-wife, Julie Conley, has pleaded not guilty to assault and battery charges related to her daughter and her trial begins March 9, according to the Northwestern District Attorney’s office.

Christopher Conley’s sentencing is set for Feb. 24.

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.


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