Attorneys focus on vehicle evidence

-A A +A

Deputy fire chief details findings at accident scene

By Carol A. Clark

In District Court Tuesday, Deputy Fire Chief Juan Pacheco testified he was the incident commander at a crash scene in Overlook Park on Dec. 4, 2005.

Thomas Edward Granich, 32, was found dead at the bottom of the canyon that Sunday morning and his wife Penny, now 35, is being charged.

Pacheco detailed a number of articles he collected at the scene and turned over to police.

“I do remember retrieving a couple of LANL security badges, LANL papers that we’re real sensitive about – I think it was study material for a couple of sites … I remember retrieving her ID and I think it was a purse.”

Pacheco recalled seeing a woman’s shoe on the floorboard of the 2004 Dodge truck that came to rest on its wheels in a creek bed some 350 below the canyon rim.

The passenger seatbelt was in the unused position, Pacheco said.

He also remembered the driver’s seat was reclined backwards and thinking it had been done after the accident.

Defense attorney Mark Donatelli jumped on that comment saying it hadn’t been in previous testimony given April 13, 2008.

Pacheco explained it had been three years since he thought about the vehicle but on further reflection felt the seat had been reclined later. His point of reference is he has the exact same truck, he said, and knew how the seat operated.

Prosecutor Carlos Gutierrez contends the evidence shows Penny was in the driver’s seat and wearing the seatbelt.

The evidence indicates that sometime after the truck hit bottom, she reclined her seat and crawled out the back window, Gutierrez said.

A county worker discovered Penny sitting in the bed of the truck early that morning.

Donatelli argued against that scenario saying it was impossible to know when that seat was reclined.

“If the survivor (Penny) had been the passenger, what reason would she have had to unbuckle the driver’s seatbelt?” Gutierrez asked.

Pacheco responded, “None that I can think of.”

Field Deputy Medical Investigator Carlos Gonzales from the Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI) took the stand. He responded to the crash scene at about noon Dec. 4, 1005. He documented and photographed the scene and Granich’s body.

He testified to gashes on Granich’s face and scull and estimated he had been dead some six to 12 hours.

Both the prosecuting and defense attorneys took turns questioning Gonzales. This type of testimony becomes lengthy and tedious and at one point in Tuesday’s proceedings, Judge Michael Vigil reminded one of the jurors who appeared to have nodded off that she must keep her eyes open.

Testimony is expected to continue through Thursday.