Defense to begin in trial of agent
The prosecution in the Arthur Gonzales murder case wrapped up its case Friday, hopeful that the evidence will convince a jury that the FBI agent’s explanation for his estranged wife’s slaying last year was fabricated.
Gonzales, 43, has claimed that he acted in self-defense April 19 when he fired four shots into the chest of Julie Serna Gonzales at their home on Alderwood Drive in North Stafford.
Gonzales told police she forced him to kill her by twice charging at him with a knife. He is charged with second-degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen and prosecutors Kristin Bird and Michael Hardiman are trying to prove that Gonzales staged the slaying scene and lied about what happened.
Among those testifying during Friday’s third day of the trial in Stafford Circuit Court was a forensic scientist who testified that microscopic gunpowder primer residue was found on the knife handle.
The prosecution has contended that no residue should have been on the handle since Julie Gonzales’ hand was around it when police arrived.
Olsen said that showed that Arthur Gonzales put the knife in her hand after shooting her.
But under cross-examination from defense attorney Mark Gardner, the scientist acknowledged there were other ways the primer could have gotten on the handle that match up with Gonzales’ story.
Angie Rainey, another scientist, said she found no blood on the blade of the knife.
But she said that didn’t rule out the possibility of the knife cutting Gonzales’ shirt and causing a superficial wound, as he claimed.
Once the prosecution rested, Gardner asked Judge Sarah Deneke to dismiss the second-degree murder charge. He said the case merited no more than a manslaughter charge and that there was no evidence of malice.
“There is only one version of that encounter in the kitchen and nothing has been presented that is inconsistent with that version,” Gardner said.
Olsen disagreed, pointing out multiple pieces of evidence that he said did not support Gonzales’ story, including a lack of blood on Gonzales though he claimed to be performing CPR on his dying wife.
Deneke denied Gardner’s motion, noting that the decision will be up to the jury.
The Gonzaleses were in the process of a divorce and she had moved out at the time of her slaying.
Arthur Gonzales was dating a much younger woman at the time, and Olsen has suggested that his frustration over his new girlfriend dating another man drove him over the edge.
The other woman, Cara Kast, has been perhaps the most mentioned person during the trial, even though she is not expected to appear.
Gardner called two witnesses Friday before Deneke sent the jurors home for the weekend.
Christopher Zisi, another FBI agent, testified that Gonzales came to him the spring of 2012 to express concerns about his wife’s anger and alcohol problems.
Zisi suggested that Gonzales encourage his wife to see Fredericksburg psychiatrist Syed Ahmed, which she did.
Ahmed said he treated Julie Gonzales for problems with depression and anxiety and continued seeing her after her separation from her husband.
He added that he detected no “homicidal or suicidal” tendencies in Julie Gonzales.
The trial will resume Monday morning with more defense witnesses.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404