MANSFIELD - The charges against a local woman who allegedly tried to hire undercover state police troopers to kill her husband were upheld Wednesday by District Judge James E. Carlson during a preliminary hearing that featured testimony from a state trooper and a recording of the alleged offense.
Alberta J. Rolfe, 64, of 1947 Route 660, is charged with criminal homicide and illegal sale or transfer of a firearm for allegedly trying to have her estranged husband, Lyle Rolfe, killed by hitmen.
State police Trooper Ryan S. Kelley, of Troop F in Mansfield, told the court that he and another trooper, working in an undercover capacity, made contact with Rolfe on June 11, when she allegedly had asked them to kill her husband, providing them with a pistol, her title to a vehicle and a laptop as a down payment for the task. Police were made aware of Rolfe's plans on June 5 by her daughter, Teresa M. Clark.
Clark told police that Rolfe had asked her if she knew of anyone who could have Lyle Rolfe killed.
As he told the court that he's certified to administer consensual and nonconsensual wiretaps, Kelley provided Carlson with a video of the conversation he had with Rolfe in a vehicle on June 11.
Kelley said a camera was hidden in the dashboard of the vehicle, capturing footage of Rolfe expressing her desire for her husband to be killed because he had cut her out of his will. Clark and the other trooper also were in the vehicle at the time the recording was made.
Though the video of the recording was seen only by Carlson, the audio could be heard by the rest of the court.
"I want him dead," a voice was heard saying. Carlson confirmed that the voice was Rolfe's, allegedly referring to her husband, from whom she's been separated for two years.
"Yes, I want it done," Rolfe also told the undercover troopers, according to Carlson.
Kelley testified that the footage contains a conversation with Rolfe about how she wanted the murder to take place, including a plot involving poisoned cookies that would be mailed to her husband's home in Geneva, New York.
"I don't care who mails them," Rolfe could be heard saying on the recording. At one point, the same voice said, "I don't give a s... how he dies."
Kelley also told the court that Rolfe had provided him with a schematic of her husband's home and a hand-drawn map of how to get there, as well as a description of the general area itself.
Rolfe's attorney, public defender Mary Morris, questioned Kelley about whether any definitive agreement had been made between Rolfe and the state troopers.
"It was left open-ended," Kelley said of the nature of the requested crime itself. "But it was agreed the killing would take place."
In his closing remarks for the prosecution, Tioga County District Attorney George Wheeler told the court that the video recording is "incontrovertible," adding that Rolfe had made arrangements with individuals to have her husband killed.
Carlson recommitted Rolfe to the Tioga County Prison without bail. She is scheduled for a formal arraignment at the Tioga County Courthouse on July 21.