Opening Arguments Scheduled Today in Starke County Murder Trial

 The state will begin presenting its case today against the Knox man who is accused of killing his estranged wife, kidnapping an employee from Mark Bailey’s Discount Center and stealing a car from a couple in English Lake. Gary Chavez is on trial for murder, kidnapping and carjacking in connection with the June 6, 2014 incidents. His trial started yesterday with jury selection, which took the entire day.

A panel of eight women and four men with two female alternate jurors will hear testimony. Starke Circuit Judge Kim Hall advised the trial could take up to two weeks, and prosecutor Nick Bourff warns photos of victim Kimberly Chavez will be graphic.

Bourff also told the prospective jurors there’s a difference between fiction and reality when it comes to processing evidence gathered during the investigation of a crime. He notes doing so takes quite a bit longer than television shows and movies would have you believe. Defense attorney David Welter thanked the jurors for their patriotism. He also asked each one individually what rumor they would hear about a spouse or romantic partner that would make them the most furious. Most answered cheating or having an affair.

Chavez wore black pants and a black shirt and jacket to court and sat quietly next to his attorneys. Several members of his family also attended the proceedings. It is not clear at this time whether Chavez intends to testify. The witness list includes law enforcement officials from several jurisdictions and the kidnapping and carjacking victims.

The jury will only determine whether or not Chavez is guilty. Should the trial outcome necessitate a penalty phase, that will be up to the judge.