Novak trial: Judge OKs re-enactment photos

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The judge in a murder trial of a Cannon Air Force Base airman said Tuesday she will allow re-enactment photos of the crime scene as evidence.

Chief Trial Judge for the Air Force Dawn Eflein said she believes the photos depicting how the body of victim Kimberly Novak, 20, was found in the bathroom of the base housing unit she shared with her husband and young daughter are relevant.

Military officials said she died in October 2004 of blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

Her husband, Edward Novak II, is charged with first-degree murder in her death. He faces possible life in prison if convicted.

The photos depict a female Air Force investigative agent sitting on the floor with her head in the toilet and the lid closed on the back of her neck. A second photo shows her in the same position with a television set sitting on the closed lid.

“They do assist in explaining the position of the body, and the court finds that it is not only relevant, it is helpful,” Eflein said.

Defense attorneys argued Monday the re-enactment couldn’t be regarded as accurate and would prejudice and possibly misinform the jury since no one actually knows what position Kimberly Novak was in before her husband moved her body.

Attorneys spent the remainder of the morning and afternoon cataloging evidence.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys placed almost 50 items in evidence, ranging from biological samples and articles of clothing to documents and photos.

Active duty military members are being brought in from Air Force bases in the region, including Holloman, near Alamogordo, and Dyess Air Force Base near Abilene, Texas, to serve on the jury.

Jurors will be in the courtroom Wednesday and will undergo examination by the court to insure their impartiality. Depending on the length of those examinations, opening arguments could begin by the end of the day.

A summary of evidence entered on the record:
• A DVD of Wal-Mart security footage the night Kimberly Novak died
• Edward Novak’s cell phone records
• A receipt from Wal-Mart the night Kimberly Novak died
• Kimberly Novak’s death certificate
• A CD-ROM of the 911 call Novak made the night he found his wife and a transcript of the call
• Eight reports from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory
• Report on the autopsy performed on Kimberly Novak
• A video of the crime scene
• A record of the fingerprints of Edward Novak and a maintenance man who moved the toilet in the bathroom where Kimberly Novak died
• Fingernail clippings and a saliva sample from Kimberly Novak
• Two blood samples from Edward Novak and one from an acquaintance of the Novaks
• Dental impression castings from Edward and Kimberly Novak
• Castings and photos of shoe prints from the Novaks’ back yard
• A pair of tennis shoes and boots from two Air Force investigators and a pair of boots from the Novak home
• Black pants and a blue sweatshirt from the Novak home
• The television and five white towels from the couple’s bathroom
• Six documents pertaining to Kimberly Novak’s discharge from the military and her life insurance policy
• A CD-ROM with 14 photos
• A portrait of Edward and Kim Novak and photos taken inside their home
• A black T-shirt from the Novak home