DENVER — The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has thrown uncertainty into the murder trial of a Denver man accused of killing his wife nearly six years ago – a death that occurred hours after she learned he was having an affair.
Robert Feldman was scheduled to go on trial March 26 on a single charge of first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Stacy. However, the continuing health crisis led Denver Chief Judge Michael A. Martinez to suspend all jury calls through the end of March.
> Video above: A 9NEWS report on Robert Feldman's case from July 2020.
Martinez said he would consider exceptions, and the judge handling the case, Edward Bronfin, said he is going to ask whether, if things are holding steady or improving, the trial could still go ahead as currently scheduled.
“I am at least 50 percent confident – or maybe a little higher – that we could get an exemption,” Bronfin said.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca said he opposed seeking an exemption and asked that the trial be delayed until October.
But Bronfin said he wanted to proceed “if we are able in a way that is comports with public health recommendations and guidelines and provides a safe environment for witnesses, jurors, lawyers, participants, court staff – everybody.”
Bronfin said he planned to discuss the issue with Judge Martinez and scheduled a hearing Thursday morning to tell everyone involved where things stand.
In pushing to hold the trial on its current schedule, Bronfin noted that nearly six years have passed since Stacy Feldman’s death, that the trial would have been held last September if not for the unwillingness of a judge in California to order a witness to travel to Colorado and testify in person, and that the case has generated substantial media attention.
“I think it’s desirable to try and get this case tried,” Bronfin said.
Pagliuca, however, said the defendant opposed consideration of seeking permission to start the trial in late March.
“To be clear, Mr. Feldman objects to this process,” Pagliuca said.
Calling the situation “problematic,” he said that if a waiver is granted to start the trial on time “I anticipate there will be some additional litigation on that topic.”
The trial date has already been changed four times, and the case was earlier beset by delays brought on by a probate court fight over the proceeds of Stacy Feldman’s life insurance policy. Her family attempted to block Robert Feldman from using that money to pay his attorneys, and while that battle unfolded the arraignment in the case was delayed five times before ultimately being held 15 months after it was originally scheduled.
According to court documents, Robert Feldman called 911 to on that Sunday afternoon nearly six years ago, reporting he’d returned home to find his wife collapsed in the shower.
Stacy Feldman, 44 and a mother of two, had been president of the parent-teacher organization at Southmoor Elementary School in Denver.
She died just before 4 p.m. that day. At an autopsy the next day, Dr. Kelly Kobylanski could not find any internal injuries that would explain how the woman died and that further testing would be needed. Dr. Kobylanski found both underlying medical conditions – like cardiovascular disease – and multiple injuries – hemorrhages and abrasions. But she concluded that the injuries could have been the result of efforts to resuscitate Stacy Feldman and that drowning “cannot be completely excluded.”
Ultimately, she ruled that how and why Stacy Feldman died “cannot be determined.”
The investigation continued, and four months after Stacy Feldman’s death a woman called Crime Stoppers and said she’d met a man she identified as Robert Feldman on a dating website, that they’d had dinner at her home Feb. 26, 2015, and that they’d had sex that night, according to the arrest affidavit in the case. He told her he was divorced, she said, but after she sensed he was “blowing her off” she determined that he was married and located an e-mail address for Stacy Feldman, according to the affidavit.
That woman told detectives she sent an e-mail to Stacy Feldman on March 1, 2015. After confirming the couple was still married, the woman sent Stacy Feldman copies of e-mails she had exchanged with Robert Feldman, according to the affidavit. The affidavit also said Stacy Feldman called the woman that morning, “told her Robert cheated on her before and she was ‘done with him.’”
A few hours later, Robert Feldman called 911 to report finding his wife in the tub.
But it wasn’t until late 2017 that detectives got what they needed to arrest Robert Feldman: An outside doctor who reviewed Stacy Feldman’s autopsy report and other evidence and concluded that she was a victim of “strangulation or suffocation” and that her death was a homicide.
Feldman was arrested in March 2018.
Contact 9Wants to Know investigator Kevin Vaughan with tips about this or any story: firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-871-1862.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Local stories from 9NEWS