Defense argues murder connection, attorneys rest

Posted at 5:18 PM, Oct 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-24 18:27:35-04

Both sides rest their case in the trial of Anthony Garcia, but not before the defense says the Dundee murders were similar to another killing that happened months earlier.

The defense points to reasonable doubt in a letter sent by OPD to the FBI saying they need help identifying a serial killer believed to be involved in 5 murders including Thomas Hunter, Shirlee Sherman, Roger Brumback, Mary Brumback, and Joy Blanchard.

Garcia is charged in the four killings allegedly for being fired from the Creighton Pathology Department in 2001.

Monday the defense's pathologist, Dr. Francisco Diaz, testified that the 2007 murder of Joy Blanchard was similar to how Hunter and Sherman were killed.  Blanchard was found dead by her boyfriend in their home the day after she had a party.

Dr. Diaz said all victims had knives embedded in the right side of their necks and were only a couple of months, and a couple of miles from each other.  The defense argued Garcia has no connection at all to the Blanchard murder, but others could be connected to the three homicides.

“In this particular case, it appears what they’re trying to do is show some similarities between other murders unsolved murders and these murders.  The problem with that is that in this particular case there are very specific ties between the victims and the defendant and so at this point to come in and show some similarities between the methods of murder it’s just conjecture, it’s not really evidence, it’s not really circumstantial evidence that would create the reasonable doubt,” said Legal Analyst Randy Paragas.

Judge Gary Randall allowed one Blanchard crime scene photo to be shown to the jury after much argument between both sides.

The prosecution argued that Blanchard’s carotid artery wasn't severed like the other 4 victims.

Dr. Diaz also said the Brumbacks couldn't have been killed between 3-5pm on May 12, 2013 because of how much rigor mortis the victims still had allegedly 52 hours after the attack.

Elizabeth Stiles, a friend of Shirlee Sherman, testified she was supposed to clean the Hunter home the day they were killed.  Stiles says she got a strange phone call the day Sherman was murdered from her daughter's boyfriend, Jeff Widtfeldt.  She stated Sherman kept a pocket knife on her for if he ever bothered her.

The defense and officers have said Widtfeldt was a person of interest in the Dundee murders, but prosecutors never charged him with a crime.

Charles Simmer, Blanchard's nephew, was arrested in her murder in March.

The prosecution put on some rebuttal evidence from their firearm analyst, pathologist, and another digital forensics investigator.

Both sides rest their case before Judge Gary Randall.  Closing arguments will take place Tuesday morning, and then the jury will start deliberations.