Murder Defendant Intends to Testify During Trial

  Murder defendant Gary Chavez plans to testify in during his jury trial in Starke Circuit Court. Defense attorney David Welter told Starke Circuit Judge Kim Hall this morning that is his client’s intention. Chavez does have the right to change his mind at any time.

Because Chavez plans to take the stand, Judge Hall agreed to allow Welter to ask the pathologist who did the autopsy on Chavez’s estranged wife, Kimberly, about her toxicology results. Dr. Pramad Carpenter traveled from Fort Wayne, which is where he is based and the autopsy was performed. He testified to the presence of several drugs in her system at the time of her death, including cocaine and marijuana and a significant amount of amphetamine. He also found barbiturates and pain medications described as “within the therapeutic range” for treatment, along with caffeine.

In response to a question from Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ryan, Carter said he has not seen Kimberly Chavez’s medical records and was unaware of what her physician may have prescribed. He did state people who use drugs chronically will develop a tolerance to drugs. Carter also said while drugs like cocaine and amphetamine have been known to cause aggressive behavior in some people, he does not know how Chavez reacted to them. Additionally Carter said he had no way of determining how long they had been in her system.

Carpenter also said the quantity of drugs in Kimberly Chavez’s system would have been enough to kill her. He stressed she died of multiple blunt force trauma, including puncture wounds to both of her carotid arteries. Had that not killed her, Carpenter said multiple skull fractures received after a loss of blood to her brain would have.

Autopsy photos indicate puncture wounds on both sides of Kimberly Chavez’s neck. Carpenter says they would have stopped the flow of blood to her brain and caused it to flow into her sternum, which was consistent with his examination findings. He determined the head trauma occurred later based on the lack of blood on the brain near the injured areas.

If Chavez opts not to testify, the jurors will be advised to disregard the toxicology report testimony. Chavez is also charged with kidnapping and carjacking. He’s accused of killing his estranged wife at his rural Knox home, driving to Mark Bailey’s Discount Center, kidnapping a store employee at gunpoint, driving to English Lake and stealing a second vehicle at gunpoint. Testimony in his trial will continue this afternoon.