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Graphic evidence stirs courtoom emotions as Garcia murder trial continues

(WOWT)
Published: Oct. 5, 2016 at 10:06 AM CDT
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The focus turned to forensics as the trial of Anthony Garcia resumed Wednesday. Graphic evidence saw strong emotions surface in the courtroom.

Garcia is accused of four murders: Thomas Hunter and Shirlee Sherman in 2008 and Roger and Mary Brumback in 2013.

Forensic pathologist Michelle Elieff was the first on the stand Wednesday. With more than 2,500 autopsies over the course of her career, she served as consult on the Sherman and Hunter autopsies. The man who performed them, Dr. Jerry Jones, will not be able to testify due to health issues.

Elieff was shown photos from the Shirlee Sherman autopsy. One was an image of notes regarding injuries to the head and neck. The photos brought tears to some in the courtroom.

Elieff said there were 18 wounds on a portion of Sherman's neck. As the photos were introduced, Garcia kept his attention on a document he was reading.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine asked Elieff if both the jugular vein and the carotid artery were severed. She answered, "Yes."

The prosecutor asked the cause of death. Elieff said, "She died of stab wounds of the neck."

Elieff then verified that she was also the consult for Thomas Hunter's autopsy. Pictures followed from the autopsy on the 11-year-old boy.

Garcia did not appear to look at any of the photos.

A 10 minute break followed at the request of a juror. Some members of the panel clutched tissues as they left the courtoom.

Elieff continued testifying after the break telling the court that Thomas Hunter's major injuries were to his neck. There was a soft tissue hemorrhage, cutting of jugular and carotid arteries on both sides.

Under questioning from defense attorney Bob Motta Sr. she said she did not know whether Sherman or Hunter died first and said she did not find any defensive wounds on either.

Motta: "So basically your testimony here is that they were killed, and the cause of death is knife wounds, correct?"

Elieff: "Yes."

Motta: "All the rest is reviews of photographs of Dr. Jerry Jones report, right?"

Elieff: "Right."

She verified that she was also at the scene of the Brumback murders, mostly to observe and sometimes to help those on scene.

Elieff's testimony concluded late Wednesday morning.

Jason Peterson, the owner of a piano moving company testified about arriving at the Brumback home and finding the door ajar. He said he noticed a gun clip inside and called 911.

Fire Medic Jason Gohr also testified about the gun magazine and then told of the two bodies found upon entering the house. Gohr also said a knife was found at the scene.

Next to take the stand was OPD Field Sergeant Michael Huston. Huston confirmed he noticed the magazine when first entering the house. Huston said when he went inside he found a male near the staircase and a female in another room. He said he noticed a hole above the closet where Roger Brumback was found. Huston testified he believed it was a bullet hole. During cross examination, Huston said when he went into the house he was not wearing any protective shoe coverings like footies.

Neighbor Larry Mason, who testified he didn’t know the Brumbacks, was working outside on May 12th, 2013 when he heard three loud boom noises. Mason said he dismissed the noise after he didn’t notice anything unusual. During cross examination, Mason was asked, “at the time you heard these noises, there is no way to tell which direction they came from?"

“Safe to say,” he replied.

Mason’s wife took the stand after her husband. Rosanne testified she heard two loud pops, not three, around 3:30 p.m. or 3:45 p.m.

OPD Detective Derek Mois testified Wednesday that when he arrived he noticed there were two newspapers left at the Brumbacks and it appeared they hadn’t picked up their mail. Mois went through crime photos taken that day, pointing out blood droplets and wounds found on Dr. Brumback. Mois testified that it appeared Dr. Brumback was stabbed and shot. Mois said there were no signs of forced entry to the Brumback home.

Prosecution also questioned Mois about injures found on Mary Brumback including injuries to her left hand. Mois told jurors he believed they were defensive injuries. Some in attendance in the courtroom shielded their eyes from the graphic photos show of Mary Brumback’s injures. Mois testified that one knife was found underneath Mary, another was found a few feet away. Crime photos showed two kitchen drawers were left open.

Mois said while at the Brumback scene he voiced out loud some of the similarities to the Dundee homicides.

During cross examination, Garcia’s defense pressed Mois about where Dr. Brumback was shot and where the bullet travel after striking Brumback.

“How tall Dr. Brumabck is? I'm trying to figure out how high his shoulder is,” Bob Motta asked.

“I'm not sure,” Mois said.

“It’s your theory!” Motta fired back.

Motta challenged Mois on his theory on the number of gunshots and how they struck Brumback.

Refresh this page or follow WOWT's Erin Murray on Twitter at @emurray1 for #GarciaTrial updates