CLEARFIELD – After four years, the Chase Anderson murder case is set to go to trial today.
Anderson of Curwensville was 19 years old in the summer of 2017 when he was reported missing.
Authorities received a tip that Kenja Kasheem Tew, now 26, was telling people that Anderson “wasn’t coming back.”
In April of 2018, Tew and Denny S. Bailey, now 41, of Woodland were both charged with criminal homicide, assault, kidnap to inflict terror, conspiracy and numerous related offenses.
During a preliminary hearing, investigators testified that Tew, who was in custody for another offense, admitted to police his involvement in the crime, named the others and took officers to where they had left Anderson’s burnt body in a remote, wooded area of Pike Township.
He told police that the plan was to take Anderson to a secluded area, tie him up and scare him. Bailey was allegedly upset because Anderson was “messing with” his girlfriend, according to previous accounts.
Several motions by the commonwealth were discussed Monday afternoon before President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman.
One of these involved an alternate juror who needed to be excused from the case because he works at the state prison in Houtzdale where Tew is being transferred.
Ammerman agreed and this juror was dismissed. So far, a total of three alternates have been excused from the case.
In all six alternate jurors were chosen at jury selection due to the length of the trial and the COVID pandemic.
The first witness will be Anderson’s mother, according to First Assistant District Attorney Leanne Nedza, who asked Ammerman to allow her to testify regarding Anderson being involved with selling drugs with Bailey.
Joe Ryan, defense attorney for Bailey, opposed this because Bailey is not charged with any drug related crimes.
It was agreed that she could testify about Anderson working with Bailey but not mention drugs.
Another motion was regarding the admission of crime scene photos, which Nedza described as “graphic.”
Ryan asked the photos be shown in black and white because the color pictures could be considered prejudicial. He stated that the jury can plainly see the injuries in a black and white photo.
Ammerman stated that in all the trials he had been involved with, he had never seen color photos of injuries unless an expert was on the stand. He agreed with Ryan.
Ammerman also said he was not happy about these motions being filed so close to the start of the trial.
Nedza explained that the motions were needed because Bailey will not stipulate to anything. But in a discussion about using recorded phone calls in the prosecution, Bailey agreed to stipulate that the voice on the calls is his own.
According to previous reports, the details on what happened that night from Tew and Bailey were similar. They both said they took Anderson to the area and fought with him before killing him.
Tew claimed Bailey slit Anderson’s throat and burned the body while Bailey said it was Tew who stabbed Anderson and poured gas on him.
A third person, Chantell Renee Demi, 30, of Woodland is also charged with homicide, conspiracy and related charges in this case and with reckless burning, tampering with evidence and more because the vehicle used to transport Anderson to the scene of the crime was set on fire.
In her statements with police, Demi agreed they were only trying to scare Anderson. But later she commented to an investigator that the plan was to kill him.
Demi’s involvement included purchasing tape and garbage bags for the crime. Once Bailey was incarcerated, he instructed Demi to destroy the vehicle or as she said, make it “go kaboom”, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing.
The trial is scheduled for nine days.