Tamaqua murder trial begins
Accused killer Robert Bailey, of Tamaqua, is escorted to court by Schuylkill County Sheriff’s Deputy Shawn Chaplick. LISA PRICE/TIMES NEWS
“I didn’t hesitate, I didn’t stop, I didn’t want to stop. I was relieved, I felt good, I’d do it again.”
In his opening statement, District Attorney Mike O’Pake read those words Monday, which he said Robert B. Bailey, 54, said to Tamaqua Police Chief Henry Woods soon after his arrest in the slaying of his wife.
Diane Bailey, 43, was killed on Nov. 26, 2017.
Robert Bailey’s trial opened Monday in Schuylkill County Court. He is charged with first- and third-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment and possession of instruments of crime.
Diane Bailey died of multiple stab wounds, including a gaping one to her neck, on the sidewalk in front of the house she and Robert shared on Lafayette Street in Tamaqua.
The night of her death
Tamaqua Police had been called to the home at 7:42 p.m. to handle a domestic dispute, and witnesses told police it was Robert Bailey who had stabbed her.
Police fanned out to search and West Penn Township officer Anthony Houser found Bailey minutes later walking along Washington Street. According to the police report, Bailey’s hands and clothing were bloody, and he clutched a knife. Reportedly, he dropped the knife and told Houser, “I’m the guy you’re looking for.”
Bailey was taken into custody, arrested by Tamaqua officer Henry Wood. He confessed to the crime, telling police where he had discarded the knife used in the stabbing, as he fled out the back door of the home.
For his first witness, O’Pake called Kali Hile, daughter of Robert and Diane Bailey. Hile kept her composure during a lengthy testimony which included a graphic account of the stabbing.
She recounted the events from that day, which began with her and her mother driving to McAdoo on an errand. They turned around before getting to their destination.
At that time, Hile lived nearby on Rowe Street, and two men (Robert Gallahar and Shane Johnson) shared the Lafayette Street house with the Baileys. Gallahar called Diane Bailey, telling her that Robert Bailey was accusing her of stealing items from him. Diane Bailey dropped Kali off at Rowe Street, and returned to Lafayette Street.
But soon Gallahar showed up at Hile’s house on Rowe Street, telling Kali he was afraid for her mother’s safety.
“I ran out with no shoes or jacket,” Hile testified. “My mother was upstairs packing items into book bags.”
Her mother secured the packed items in Gallahar’s room, and she and her daughter went to the Rowe Street house. Later, Diane Bailey decided she’d stay overnight at Rowe Street, and she and her daughter returned to Lafayette Street to get items she needed overnight.
“We got her PJs,” Hile testified. “As we were leaving, he called her vulgar names.”
Later, Johnson called Diane Bailey and told her Robert Bailey was putting some of her things outside and “smashing things.”
“Let’s go get my stuff,” Diane Bailey said, and she and her daughter headed back to Lafayette Street. Johnson met them partway, and they decided when they got to the house, he would lead the way, with Bailey in the middle and Hile third in line.
Things go south
“I could tell something was wrong,” Hile testified, about her father’s appearance when they returned to the house. “There was no color in his eyes.”
Johnson went into the house. When Diane Bailey started to ask why her things were outside, Robert Bailey whirled and pushed her, causing she and Hile to fall on the landing for the house’s porch steps.
“I reached down to help her up and my dad comes storming down the steps,” Hile testified. “He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a knife, flipped it open … my mom said, ‘Rob, what are you doing?’ and I said, ‘No, Dad, don’t’ … he started stabbing her, over and over again.”
Hile, who had no cellphone, ran to Rowe Street and called 911. When she returned to Lafayette Street, her mother was already dead.
“She wasn’t breathing, her eyes were open, there was blood everywhere,” she testified. “My dad killed my mom.”
Under cross-examination, public defender Kent Watkins questioned Hile about use of methamphetamine, by her mother and by herself, with Hile confirming past use. Watkins also asked Hile about the relationship of Robert and Diane Bailey as a couple — if they bickered — and she replied that they did not.
O’Pake on redirect asked Hile if her mother had ever previously expressed concerns about her personal safety.
“She said that if anything happens to me, Robert Bailey did it,” Hile testified.
The first day came to a close at 4 p.m. Monday.
O’Pake said he had two more witnesses to testify Tuesday. Judge John E. Domalakes is presiding.
In May 2018, Domalakes denied Bailey’s request to suppress statements he made to police after his arrest. In August 2018, Bailey asked for a six-month delay before the start of his trial, to allow time for him to be evaluated by an expert to determine if he was influenced by alleged drug intoxication when he stabbed his wife.
The trial is being prosecuted by District Attorney Michael O’Pake, assisted by McCall Young. Public defender Kent Watkins will represent Bailey, who has been held in county jail without bail.
On Monday, O’Pake called four additional witnesses in addition to Hile. Their names, and key parts of testimony:
• Tamaqua Police officer Corey Herring secured the crime scene, issued a broadcast through County Emergency Management with the defendant’s description and suggested search focus.
• Anthony Houser, West Penn Township Police officer, heard the broadcast, adjusted his route, and spotted a man fitting description walking on Washington Street. “He put his hands up, dropped a knife and said ‘I’m the guy you’re looking for.’ He was covered in blood.”
• Amanda Dougherty, Tamaqua Community Ambulance EMT said, “The more serious wound, from the center of the throat to below the ear, a deep wound, could see the muscles of the neck. A traumatic injury incompatible with life.”
• Schuylkill County Deputy Coroner Andrew Szczyglak pronounced Diane Bailey dead at 8:32 p.m.