Prosecution witness rebutts defense’s alternative death theory

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE — A state forensic pathologist said Friday he stood by his opinion in the first-degree murder trial of a Cannon airman that Kimberly Novak died from blunt force trauma and strangulation.

Returning to the stand at the request of the jury, Dr. Russell Alexander disagreed with a defense witness who said Kimberly Novak died of an infection in the heart, which caused sudden cardiac arrest. Alexander testified Friday that he saw no evidence of a heart condition and that Kimberly Novak’s heart appeared to be healthy and normal.

Col. Dawn Eflein, chief trial judge for the Air Force, granted the jurors’ request Thursday to hear more testimony from Alexander.

Lawyers representing Airman Basic Edward Novak II asked for a mistrial Friday, arguing jurors should not have been allowed to hear testimony presented Friday since jurors had already deliberated more than 30 hours.

The defense argued Alexander was essentially a new witness because he was allowed to specifically prepare to rebut Bonnell’s testimony.

Eflein denied the mistrial motion and the five-member jury returned Friday afternoon to its fifth day of deliberations.

Kimberly Novak, 20, was found dead Oct. 28, 2004, in a military housing unit she shared with her husband.

Edward Novak faces life in prison if convicted.