Novak jury recesses for day

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE — Jurors recessed after deliberating for approximately nine hours Tuesday in the first-degree murder trial of Airman Basic Edward Novak II.

They will resume deliberations at 8 a.m. today.

If a guilty verdict is rendered, the court will move immediately into sentencing. Novak could face life in prison.

The five-member jury has three options in deciding whether Novak killed his wife. They can find Novak not guilty, guilty of premeditated murder, or guilty of non-premeditated murder.

A verdict can be reached if four out of five panel members agree.

Kimberly Novak, 20, died Oct. 28, 2004, in the military housing unit they shared.

The prosecution said she died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck. The defense contends she suffered from a viral condition that went into her heart and caused sudden death.

The judge denied a Monday request for jurors to examine a pair of handcuffs. Testimony showed Edward Novak was handcuffed after his wife was found dead. Prosecutors claim Kimberly Novak bit her husband as they struggled and questions were raised as to whether the handcuffs could have caused marks on Edward Novak’s arm.

The jury request was denied because jurors are required to base their decision solely on the evidence presented at trial and are not allowed to conduct their own research in the case, Chief Trial Judge for the Air Force Dawn Eflein said.