The testimony of a nationally renowned forensic pathologist Thursday was contrary to a former FBI special agent’s claim that he acted in self-defense when he killed his estranged wife nearly two years ago.
Dr. Marcella Fierro, the retired chief medical examiner in Virginia, testified that at least one shot was fired into Julie Gonzales on April 19, 2013, while she was dead on the kitchen floor.
Gonzales’ husband, Arthur B. Gonzales, is charged with second-degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a felony in connection with the slaying.
His scheduled nine-day trial in Stafford Circuit Court, which began Tuesday, will resume this morning.
Gonzales has claimed that he shot his wife that afternoon after she charged at him with a knife.
He has said she became upset when he tried to talk to her about speeding up their divorce.
His first trial last year ended with a hung jury.
Prosecutors Eric Olsen and Kristen Bird enlisted the help of Fierro for this trial, and she spent most of the morning explaining the scientific rationale behind her conclusions.
Fierro said her examination of the evidence showed that the “shored” wound caused by one of the four shots that struck Julie Gonzales clearly was the result of the bullet striking a hard surface, presumably the floor, as it tried to exit her body.
Gonzales contends that his wife was upright and coming at him when he shot her.
The forensic scientist who performed the autopsy, Jennifer Bowers, testified Wednesday and at the previous trial that the shored wound could have resulted from the bullet striking the victim’s bra.
But Fierro said that while certain bras could cause such a result, the bra Julie Gonzales was wearing was not sturdy enough to do so.
Asked by defense attorney Mark Gardner about the fact that Bowers and a scientist hired by the defense came to differing conclusions, Fierro replied, “I think that I probably have more experience with that.”
The prosecution contends that problems in Arthur Gonzales life at the time caused him to lose it when he unexpectedly encountered his wife that day at their home on Alderwood Drive.
The couple was in the process of a divorce, and Arthur Gonzales had the house and custody of their two sons.
The prosecution put on a number of FBI employees and other witnesses who talked about such things as Gonzales’ obsession with 23-year-old FBI employee Kara Cast and his dismay over having to pay $2,000 a month to his estranged wife as part of a court order.
Cast had moved in with Gonzales the week of the slaying. On her first night in the home, Gonzales went through her phone and found evidence that she was seeing another man.
She eventually married that other man, FBI special agent Allen George. George was among the witnesses who testified Thursday.
Gonzales’ attorneys have contended that Julie Gonzales was the only one who’d been aggressive in their marriage and that he had no motive to want her dead.
The most riveting moment in Thursday’s testimony came while Gardner was cross-examining Fierro.
A man who bailiffs said was about to enter the courtroom suffered a heart attack and collapsed just outside the door, making a loud sound while hitting the floor.
Deputies rushed to the man’s aid and, with the aid of CPR and an AED machine, revived the man by the time the rescue squad arrived.
Fierro left the witness stand to offer assistance, but witnesses said Detective Eric Quinn and deputies Elizabeth Smith and Justin Duvall were primarily responsible for saving the man’s life.
The unusual incident delayed court proceedings for about 30 minutes.
The prosecution is expected to wrap up its case today. Judge Sarah Deneke said the defense would then begin putting on its case Monday.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404