CLEARFIELD – It took a jury only about two hours to find Denny S. Bailey guilty for the first-degree murder of Chase Anderson in August of 2017.
Bailey, 41, of Woodland was also found guilty of conspiracy/first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of conspiracy/aggravated assault, kidnapping, conspiracy/kidnapping, two counts of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, tampering with or fabricating evidence and abuse of a corpse.
The verdict came at the end of the seventh day with closing arguments filling the morning hours. As the verdict was read, members of Anderson’s family cried.
Initially in 2017, Anderson was reported missing by his mother, but the investigation turned into a murder case after it was reported that Bailey’s co-defendant, Kenja K. Tew, 26, formerly of Clearfield, was telling people that Anderson was not coming back.
After being questioned, Tew took police to a remote area of Pike Township where they found Anderson’s body, which was partially burned.
Both Tew and Chantell Demi, Bailey’s ex-girlfriend had testified previously that it was Bailey, who plotted to take Anderson to the clearing in the woods to scare him, beat him and leave him to find his own way home.
Instead, Tew said after putting Anderson in a choke hold as Bailey asked him to, Anderson got loose and fought with Bailey, who stabbed him in the back several times. Tew admitted he also stabbed Anderson in the shoulder.
During his closing arguments, defense attorney Joe Ryan, reminded the jury of eight women and four men, that Bailey “was not in good shape” in August of 2017 when the crime was committed. He would have found it difficult to both climb the hill and then fight with Anderson as Tew had testified.
He also noted that Tew had warned a friend not to kill anyone because it was a horrible thing when Anderson was still thought to be missing.
A possible motive for Tew to kill Anderson was that Tew had walked in on Anderson having sex with his ex-girlfriend. Another reason for him to want to kill Anderson was that Anderson had “ratted” him out to police about both of them staying in a vacant apartment, Ryan said.
Tew’s story changed and minimized his actions, he said, while variations in Bailey’s stories were due to his efforts to protect Demi.
“He’s so in love with Chantell that he considered her family,” Ryan stated.
First Assistant District Attorney Leanne Nedza in her closing, made the point that Bailey ‘had four years to get his story together” and as the trial progressed, he had adapted it with the information he heard.
For example, he said that he “absolutely” did not tell Demi to burn the vehicle used to transport Anderson to the scene, not realizing the prosecution had a taped phone call from him at the jail to Demi in which they discussed getting rid of it.
He was also not aware that there was a witness who saw Demi taking thorns out of his back from a bush where Anderson died.
“He made up a story, right before your eyes,” she said about jumping out of a car a few days after the murder and into a bush.
She suggested that the only time Bailey gave an accurate depiction of the murder was in his second interview with police. It was then he stated “when Chase took his last breath, that [expletive] me up”.
“This was real,” she said.
Nedza went on to say that Demi didn’t want Anderson killed, but the jury didn’t need to believe everything she said.
“She is trying to make amends” now by signing a plea agreement and telling the truth, Nedza noted.
Tew also was impacted by the crime as she described him after as “catatonic” and later doing the right thing by taking police to the body.
“If Kenja had not led them there, they might never have found the body.”
She stated that this was all Bailey’s plan because he was the kingpin and drug dealer.
Bailey will receive a mandatory life in prison term and will be scheduled for sentencing as soon as possible, President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman stated at the end of the trial.
Ryan responded that Bailey wanted to waive the pre-sentence investigation and be sentenced immediately, but Ammerman pointed out that it was after hours at this point of the day and Bailey’s sentencing hearing should happen during regular court hours and with some notice to anyone who might want to be there.
In an interview after the trial, District Attorney Ryan Sayers stated it was a relief for this case to have this result and conclusion.
He was thankful for the team effort from the DA’s office, especially Nedza, who was very effective with her closing arguments, Sgt. Mark Kelly of the Curwensville Police, Trooper David Patrick, and all of the state police officers involved in the investigation.
He described their approach as a “tag team” between him and Nedza with Sayers doing the opening and early questioning and Nedza taking over as the trial went on and doing closing. This plan worked with Bailey being put away for the rest of his life.
The case against Tew is still pending, but it is possible after seeing this result, that he will sign the plea agreement he was offered in which he would be pleading to second-degree murder, Sayers said.
As noted earlier in the trial, Demi has signed a plea agreement, which could give her a sentence of 15 to 30 years in state prison.