By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico
CANNON AIR FORCE BASE — The prosecution ended its case in the first-degree murder case against Edward Novak II on Friday morning with the testimony of a forensic psychologist, who testified in general terms about memory and how it is affected by trauma.
The defense’s first move was to debunk testimony regarding a wound on the Cannon Air Force Base airman’s arm the prosecution has characterized as a sign of a struggle for his wife’s life Kimberly Novak, 20, was found dead in the apartment the couple shared in base housing.
Dr. Thomas David, a forensic odontologist retained by the defense, testified the wound on Edward Novak’s arm was not a human bite mark, much less a bite mark from Kimberly Novak.
“In my opinion, it is not a bite mark,” David said under direct examination by Maj. Shawn Vandenberg.
“How certain are you?” Vandenberg asked.
“To a (degree) of reasonable medical certainty,” David replied, explaining that was the highest recognized level of certainty possible in bite-mark analysis.
Dr. Peter Loomis testified for the prosecution Tuesday that he compared the wound to castings of Edward and Kimberly Novak’s teeth. He said he believed the wound was “suggestive” of a bite mark and if so, he said Kimberly Novak “probably” caused it.
The prosecution has implied Kimberly Novak bit her husband’s arm during a struggle for her life.
Using photos and a slide presentation of the analysis done by Loomis, David said he based his opinion on inconsistencies in and around the wound that could not be explained in a bite scenario.
Prosecutor Capt. Aaron Woodward attacked the fact David didn’t conduct a full independent analysis of the wound, using Loomis’ photos and overlay tracings of the Novak’s teeth instead of generating his own.
On re-direct by Vandenberg, David explained, “The primary reason I didn’t do my own analysis is because in my opinion, it’s not a bite mark.”
Kimberly Novak died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck, officials have said.
Edward Novak faces life in prison if convicted.
Following David’s testimony, court was recessed for the day.
Testimony is expected to resume today.
Jurors heard the remainder of an audio recording from an interview the Office of Special Investigations conducted on May 10, 2004, with Edward Novak. It was the third and final interview they conducted with him.
Agents testified because Novak kept telling them he couldn’t remember anything, they took him to his house for the interview in hopes being there would jog his memories of the night his wife died.
Novak could be heard describing pushing the bathroom door open and seeing his wife sitting in front of the toilet with her head under the seat and a television on top of the lid.
- Jeffrey Younggren, a forensic psychologist from California, was the final prosecution witness. Younggren testified about memory and trauma.
Following traumatic events, people tend to lose the details of the situation but “individuals that are exposed to trauma generally know the essence of what occurred,” he said.
Younggren did not testify specifically about Novak.
According to prior testimony, Edward Novak told investigators he couldn’t remember anything that happened the night Kimberly Novak died in the months that followed her death.
— Compiled by Sharna Johnson