Opening Statements In Gomez Murder Trial
Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst delivered her opening statement on Thursday afternoon before the jury and District Judge Karen Townsend, in which she laid out the timeline of the final hours of Charlie Ann Wyrick.
Speaking for Gomez, public defender Lisa Kauffman says all the evidence against her client is circumstantial.
Pabst began with December, 2015, chronicling the escalating abuse suffered at the hands of her controlling boyfriend, Emmanuel Gomez, charged with her murder.
"She's been worried that he would kill her," Pabst told the jury. "She told her friends that if she went missing, to look for her body up Pattee Canyon. She said he had taken her to a place up there far from earshot of any of the houses, and hurt her. The defendant took her to his house and locked the door. A few hours later, Charlie has a broken rib, a broken nose, a lacerated and bleeding spleen, a punctured ling, and she is dying. Her last day alive ended up Pattee Canyon when the defendant tossed her off the road into a ravine in frigid temperatures where she landed 29 feet below when she landed up against some brush, where she froze. Less that 29 feet from me...sits that man," she said turning and pointing to Gomez.
From there, Pabst related how Wyrick's friends and coworkers had noticed the bruises, black eyes and other injuries she suffered, urging her to leave the defendant, but to no avail, as she was eventually found dead by Missoula County Sheriff's deputies in Pattee Canyon.
Pabst said after dumping her body, Gomez returned to Missoula to clean his Chevy Tahoe.
"The defendant then started the tedious process of scrubbing away his crimes, cleaning his vehicle, his bathroom, his bedroom," she said. "After Charlie hadn't shown up for a couple of shifts at work, the mother of one of Wyrick's coworkers asked Gomez directly, 'Where's Charlie?'..to which he replied, 'She's gone and she ain't coming back'."
Pabst closed by asking the jury to convict Gomez of felony deliberate homicide and partner or family member assault.
"After the presentation of the testimony, we're going to ask you to find him guilty," she said. "Guilty of both counts of deliberate homicide and partner or family member assault. In so doing, we're asking you to hold him accountable. The testimony and witnesses will build a path, and that path will lead to that man in that chair, a chair that he earned with a violent distinction."
Kauffman said the state's case is built on assumptions, not direct evidence.
"The State is asking the jury to assume that because he (Gomez) was in a violent relationship with Charlie that therefore he must have been the one that killed her," Kauffman said. "They will be unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he is actually the one who hurt her and hid her body in Pattee Canyon. There's no murder weapon, there's no witnesses, only assumptions."
Gomez' trial is expected to last 10 days. If found guilty, he could receive a term of life in the Montana State Prison.