SPOKANE, Wash. - Prosecutors rested their case Monday against Gail Gerlach, who is on trial for shooting car thief Brendon Kaluza-Graham.
Gerlach is charged with first degree manslaughter in the death of Kaluza-Graham.
On Monday the prosecution tried to prove that Gerlach's claims that he fired in self defense don't match the physical evidence and that if Kaluza-Graham had really been armed with a gun that detectives would have found it.
In their opening statements, Gerlach's defense team said their client did not shoot someone to keep his SUV from being stolen, that he only opened fire when he thought he saw Kaluza-Graham raise his hand and point something at Gerlach as the car thief began driving away.
"He's not caring about the SUV any more. He sees something far more important that. He sees this. He sees this," defense attorney Richard Lee said.
Prosecutors contend Gerlach couldn't have seen Kaluza-Graham turn around in the driver's seat and point a weapon at him because of the tinted windows on his SUV.
Detectives also testified there was just too much stuff in Gerlach's cargo bay to be able to see what the thief was doing.
"It was his work vehicle and the entire back was just jammed full of items, there was also a car seat in there," Spokane Police Detective Brian Cestnik said.
Investigators said the car seat was hit by the same bullet that ended Kaluza-Graham's life which means the seat would have been at head rest level further blocking Gerlach's view through the rear windshield.
"I could see only a small portion of the headrest. I could see the visor up above. As I looked up everything else pretty much blocked my view of the front seat as I was looking through that one window that had been shot out," Spokane Police Detective Neil Gallion said.
Detectives told the jury that Kaluza-Graham did have a folding knife and a screw driver in his pocket but they could not find any evidence that the thief had ditched a gun out the window as he tried to make his escape.
"Wanted to know if anything had been thrown out of the vehicle, that was my concern as well as walking down the street, down Lee we're looking for anything that could have been thrown out of the vehicle," Gallion said.
Kaluza-Graham may have not had the time to ditch anything out the window. A search of the vehicle turned up a set of shaved keys. Police found another ring of shaved keys in Kaluza-Graham's pocket.
On Tuesday the defense team will begin presenting its case, and Gerlach is expected to take the stand in his own defense.
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