State Rests in Murder Trial, Chavez Testimony Expected Tomorrow

 The state has rested its case in the trial of a Knox man accused of killing his estranged wife. Defendant Gary Chavez is expected to take the stand tomorrow morning as a witness for the defense. He’s also charged with kidnapping and carjacking in connection with the events that occurred on June 6, 2014. The Starke County Sheriff’s Office got a 911 call at 3:37 that afternoon from a man in English Lake reporting a carjacking. Earlier testimony indicates that’s where Chavez left kidnapping victim Bryant Wagner when his car ran out of gas. Det. Rob Olejniczak from the Starke County Sheriff’s Office testified that based on information from Wagner he went to Mark Bailey’s Discount Center and found the pickup truck Chavez left in the parking lot.

Earlier this week, Wagner testified Chavez told him he had killed his wife and was on the run. Olejniczak said he and Chief Detective Kenny Pfost went to Chavez’s house and found a black BMW registered to Kimberly Chavez in the driveway. Nobody answered the door, so they broke it down, according to Olejniczak. He said nobody was in or near the house, but they did see what appeared to be blood on a rock outside. That’s when the detectives called the prosecutor and obtained a search warrant for the property. They later found Kimberly Chavez’s body rolled up in a grill cover and placed next to the house.

Text messages recovered from Gary Chavez’s phones Kimberly and Gary Chavez had been communicating since just after 6 a.m. on the day of her death. The messages started out affectionately, with Kim texting Gary, “Good morning babe, love you” with hearts, according to the message log, and Gary replying “Good morning love you.” Gary then went on say he might be sick and at one point sent Kim a text that said, “I think I’m dying” followed by one that said, “I can’t breathe” Another message from Gary said he needed to give Kim some papers. The last message Kim sent to Gary’s phone was at 12:52 p.m. It said,” Answer your phone!!!!”

Call logs indicate Kim called Gary’s cell phone seven times that day, with the final call made at 1:41 p.m. He called her once. Olejniczak also testified Kim’s white iPhone was plugged into the charger in her car, which was locked when he and Pfost arrived. An attempt to recover information from that phone Indiana State Police technicians was unsuccessful. Olejniczak took the phone to an Apple store, where he was told the phone was dead and could not be powered up.

A state police forensic pathologist and evidence technician also testified as to the presence of blood at the house and on Gary Chavez’s clothing and in his truck. DNA retrieved from his boot and jeans were both a match for Kimberly Chavez.

In response to a question from the defense, Indiana State Police Crime Scene Investigator Scott Gilbert said, “This was more of a one-sided thing. Kim took the brunt of this. You don’t see the trauma on Gary that you see on Kim.”