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Lydia Salce

Other Female Exoneration Cases with Perjury or False Accusation
In the early morning hours of August 11, 2011, 50-year-old Lydia Salce and her 41-year-old husband, Michael McKee engaged in a violent physical altercation in their home in Halfmoon, New York. Salce was slugged in the face and McKee was stabbed repeatedly.

On August 12, Salce told police that she was acting in self-defense after McKee, who was intoxicated, beat her and held a knife to her throat. McKee claimed that Salce attacked him without provocation.

Salce was arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder and two counts of first-degree assault.

She went to trial in Saratoga County Supreme Court in July 2012. McKee said he came home after a night out with members of the Prisoners of Fate motorcycle club in which was seeking membership. He told the jury that Salce asked him to choose between her and the gang. McKee said she came up behind him, said, “You’re done,” and stabbed him in the back.

McKee said he grabbed Salce and threw her against a kitchen counter and punched her to defend himself. He said she continued to stab him and that he passed out. Friends and co-workers of Salce testified that she had complained repeatedly about the deterioration of the marriage because McKee was spending too much time with the motorcycle club.

One co-worker testified that on the August 10, 2011—the morning of the day of the incident—Salce said that she had made an appointment with a psychiatrist and if she did not speak to someone soon, she was going to kill McKee.

The prosecution presented a statement Salce made to police after she called 911 to report the incident. In the statement, Salce said McKee came home drunk and threw a glass jar at her. He then grabbed her hair, jerked her head back and held a knife to her throat. She said that when he started punching her, McKee dropped the knife and she managed to pick it up and began swinging wildly, stabbing him. Salce said in the statement that she was acting in self-defense after McKee attacked her.

Salce’s defense lawyer, Andrew Blumenberg, attempted to call an expert witness who was prepared to testify that the stab wounds McKee suffered were shallow and superficial and were consistent with Salce acting in self-defense, but the prosecution objected and the trial judge barred the testimony. Salce did not testify in her own defense.

Salce was convicted of all the charges on July 6, 2012 and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

In January 2015, the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial. The appeals court held that the judge had given erroneous jury instructions on self-defense and that the defense expert should have been allowed to testify.  “Significantly, here, as part of their proof, the (prosecution) elicited testimony from police indicating that they relied on the extensive nature of McKee’s wounds in believing his version," the appeals court said. "(The defense) stated that (its) expert would have testified that the nature of (Salce’s) injuries and McKee’s wounds were not inconsistent with defensive action by defendant. Given the sharply conflicting proof on this key factual issue at trial and the testimony by police…defendant would have been permitted to have her expert testify.”

In May 2015, Salce went to trial a second time. The defense expert testified that McKee’s wounds were consistent with Salce acting in self-defense instead of attempting to kill McKee. When the prosecution declined to present Salce’s statement to police in evidence, Salce took the witness stand and described how she acted in self-defense.

On May 12, 2015, the jury acquitted Salce and she was released. Salce subsequently filed a claim for compensation with the New York Court of Claims. The claim was denied in 2018 and that decision was upheld on appeal in 2020.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 5/19/2015
Last Updated: 9/21/2020
State:New York
Most Serious Crime:Attempted Murder
Additional Convictions:Assault
Reported Crime Date:2011
Sentence:16 years
Age at the date of reported crime:50
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No