ELKO — The State and defense will make their closing arguments in the Eduardo Estrada-Puentes trial today in the Elko County Commission chambers.
The evidentiary portion of the trial concluded Friday, following more than two dozen witnesses and three days of testimony.
Estrada-Puentes, 34, is charged with open murder in the 2011 death of his estranged wife Stephanie Gonzalez.
It is believed she was strangled following a brief altercation, when she returned to the Garcia Lane residence where Estrada-Puentes was staying with the couple’s two younger children, K’iawna and Andres.
Following the June 25 killing of Gonzalez, her family and authorities began to look for her as well as attempt to locate her vehicle — a black Yukon Denali SUV.
This led into the initial missing persons investigation.
Authorities were also looking for the Chevrolet Malibu Estrada-Puentes borrowed from Aubrey Clack in Tucson, Arizona, because the air conditioning in his vehicle was out. During the questioning of Clack — who was in a relationship with Estrada-Puentes’ brother Ricardo — the defendant’s state of mind was inquired about.
Clack said Estrada-Puentes was in Arizona because he and Gonzalez were not getting along. However, the witness said the defendant told her if Gonzalez wanted to work things out, he would drive back to Elko. Additionally, he felt Gonzalez may not have cared anymore because of the length of his stay in Tucson, supposedly without an attempt to make things better.
Clack said she believed Estrada-Puentes was seeing one or two other women in Tucson due to his having hickeys on his neck.
Estrada-Puentes did not express the intention to harm Gonzalez, said Clack to the defense during cross examination. She said she did not detect anything “sinister” in his borrowing her Malibu.
Sgt. Mark O’Dell of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department was asked by Elko authorities to speak to Clack and Ricardo Estrada. According to his testimony, Clack told him Gonzalez normally initiated reconciliation and Estrada-Puentes said she would only not do so if she was seeing someone else.
On the morning of Gonzalez’s death, several witnesses confirmed it looked like Estrada-Puentes had walked to different locations, including his neighbor on Garcia Lane and Raul Becerra Haro.
Becerra, who was dating Estrada-Puentes’ cousin as the time, was asked and agreed to drive Estrada-Puentes that Saturday morning to the Salt Lake City airport.
He said Estrada-Puentes’ pants looked dusty upon his arrival to the Georgia Avenue residence.
Detective Rick Moore was made the lead detective on the case following former Elko Police Detective Kevin Blue’s move to the Salt Lake City Police Department.
He discussed finding the Chevrolet Malibu at the Sunrise Apartment Complex on Metzler Road. Both Blue and Moore discussed the reclined position of the driver’s seat after finding both vehicles.
Moore said the apartment complex is approximately one mile from Garcia Lane; Georgia Avenue, off Last Chance Road, is approximately two miles from the Metzler Road location.
These are within walking distance.
Blue’s testimony included a myriad of subjects, including phone and airplane records, finding Gonzalez’s body, Lidia Cortes telling him about a drawing K’iawna made, statements recorded by the child’s aunt and uncle after her mother’s death, and why Estrada-Puentes came back to Elko.
The latter point included testimony, where Blue was initially told by Estrada’s mother he came back because the children wanted to. She later stated Gonzalez took out divorce papers and possibly posted about it online.
While documenting the residence on Garcia Lane, Blue said he did not see signs of forced entry or signs of a struggle.
Blue, who attempted to interview K’iawna, also interviewed D’srey who said her father told her he believed Gonzalez was seeing other men. Estrada-Puentes also elaborated on the relationship by explaining he still loved her but he knew they were not going to get back together.
Blue said the defendant described his mental state to the then 10-year-old in that he wanted to commit suicide but he wouldn’t because of the kids.
A verdict is expected to be handed down by the jury today.