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No verdict in yet on Gonzales trial

A Stafford County jury deliberated more than eight hours Wednesday without deciding whether FBI Special Agent Arthur Gonzales was justified when he killed his estranged wife last year at their home in North Stafford.

Julie Serna Gonzales, 42, was shot four times in the chest April 19 during an altercation with her husband. Arthur Gonzales, 43, is charged with second-degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

The jurors late Wednesday indicated to Judge Sarah Deneke that they were making progress. But both the jurors and the judge agreed that 8 hours was long enough.

The jury will resume its deliberations Thursday at 9 a.m. in Stafford Circuit Court.

As they have throughout the first six days of the trial, Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen and defense attorney Mark Gardner presented drastically differing views of the evidence during their closing arguments Wednesday morning in Stafford Circuit Court.

Olsen scoffed at Gonzales’ claim of self-defense and said Gonzales lied repeatedly after the slaying and staged the crime scene to fit his story.

He said Gonzales was upset in large part because of a failing relationship with 23-year-old Cara Kast, a woman Olsen said Gonzales had a “rabid” obsession with.

“He’s trying to sell you a story, a story he came up with after he shot his wife in cold blood,” Olsen said. “He killed her because he wanted to, not because he had to.”

Olsen pointed out that Gonzales revealed details while testifying Tuesday that he never mentioned in a lengthy interview with Stafford Detective Todd Nosal shortly after the shooting.

These included claims that his wife had split his lip on two previous occasions and that his wife had asked about Kast’s relationship with their sons right before she charged him with a knife.

Gardner said the forensic evidence is “100 percent” consistent with Gonzales’ story and said the prosecution’s story about how Gonzales staged the scene was incredible.

Regarding claims that Gonzales had manipulated microscopic gunshot primer residue particles, Gardner said, “Even if he is a super agent, he doesn’t have X–ray vision.”

Gardner added that while Gonzales may have shown poor judgment in the much-discussed relationship with Kast, “the obsession with Cara Kast is the commonwealth’s, not Art’s.”

If the jury convicts Gonzales of the murder charge, he would face a penalty of between five and 40 years in prison. The firearm charges carry a mandatory three-year sentence.

The jury could also choose a manslaughter charge, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. However, the firearms conviction cannot accompany a manslaughter conviction.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

kepps@freelancestar.com

 

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