SPOKANE, Wash. - Sharon Gerlach was calm and articulate and withstood some pointed cross-examination as she bolstered her husband Gail's claim he fired in self defense when he shot at Brendon Kaluza-Graham after he stole Gerlach's SUV in March 2013.
The question is will the jury consider her testimony credible or coached?
Gerlach took the witness stand to defend her husband Gail at his manslaughter trial Tuesday, saying Gail routinely warmed up their Suburban on chilly Spokane mornings. The couple was just walking out their front door when Gail Gerlach saw Kaluza-Graham backing the SUV out of their driveway.
"He's holding the door for me and he suddenly just let the door go and he took off jogging down the driveway waving his arms over his head saying 'Hey, stop, stop," she said.
Gerlach told the jury though the stolen SUV was now out in the street she could still see the thief through the Suburban's tinted windows.
"With tinted windows it washes out the color but because he was backlit by the sun, yes I could see through the windows," Sharon Gerlach said.
That's when Sharon Gerlach said she thought he husband Gail was about to get shot.
"I told Detective Estes that I saw the driver of the vehicle raise his arm and point back at my husband and I thought he had a gun," she said.
Sharon Gerlach said she never saw or heard her husband fire his pistol; she just saw and heard their SUV heading south on Lee Street.
"The car kept going forward just passing our neighbor's driveway and suddenly there's a hole in the left back window," she said.
While Gerlach said a bullet went through the SUV's rear windshield just as it crossed their property, police think the suspect was more than 60 feet away and no longer a threat to the couple's safety.
Prosecutors hinted Gerlach's testimony may have been rehearsed to benefit her husband's defense and then asked Sharon Gerlach why she called her boss in the moments after the shooting.
"I told her someone had stolen our car and I thought Gail had shot him and that I was not going to be able to make it to work that day," Gerlach recalled.
Gail Gerlach is expected to take the stand in his own defense Wednesday morning. Prosecutors may also call rebuttal witnesses to impeach Sharon Gerlach's testimony.
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