Prosecutors have rested their case in the Robert Kowalski homicide trial, but may reopen their presentation to the jury at a later date.
Kowalski is on trial in Juneau Superior Court for the July 1996 death of his girlfriend Sandra Perry at Glacier Bear Lodge in Yakutat.
Kowalski claims he shot Perry by accident. Prosecutors believe it was intentional, or he engaged in conduct with extreme indifference to the value of human life, that is, first or second-degree murder.
Prosecutors still want to show the jury test results of Kowalski’s blood that was sampled several hours after Perry’s death. The blood tests could show the presence or absence of alcohol or certain drugs.
The tests were done at the state Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory in Anchorage. But one crime lab analyst has retired and her whereabouts are uncertain. Another crime lab analyst, Stephen Palmer, also tested Kowalski’s blood, but Palmer now faces charges for allegedly stealing drugs used as control samples at the lab.
Physical evidence consultant and defense witness Donald Schuessler, of Oregon, told the court Monday it was impossible to determine the exact path of the shotgun slug, because there was no impact damage in the wall, and because of the unknown position and rotation of Perry’s head at the moment of the shooting. Schuessler analyzed photos of the crime scene taken in Room 10 of the lodge.
“A bullet path described as traveling from front to back and upward could place Ms. Perry’s head in a position that supports Mr. Kowalski’s claim of falling on the bed, or attempting to get up from the bed when the shotgun discharged,” Schuessler said. “Therefore, the possibility of Ms. Perry’s death being accidental can’t be eliminated.”
Schuessler also worked as a forensic analyst for the Eugene Police Department for 28 years.
Under cross-examination by the prosecution, Schuessler acknowledged that he did not completely reconstruct the scene or talk with Alaska investigators about their observations of the Yakutat homicide.
- The flag flies on public buildings and is often waved at sporting events, but it has not been a symbol the French personally embrace. That has changed dramatically in the wake of the Nov. 13 attacks.
- Studies recommended relocating villages like Newtok, Kivalina and Shishmaref. But more than 10 years later they are still there, with waves getting higher and storms getting stronger.
- New research suggests Pacific halibut may adapt favorably to increased ocean temperatures. Greenland halibut may not be so lucky.
- “So what we’re seeing here is a giant step — a beautiful step — backward in time, where we’re remembering that there is no us versus them. There’s only us, and we are the people, and the people are the police."