ELKO — Opening arguments for the Eduardo Estrada-Puentes trial had the State asking the jury for a verdict of guilty to first-degree murder and his defense citing voluntary manslaughter.
Estrada-Puentes, 34, is being tried on an open murder charge in the 2011 death of Stephanie Gonzalez. He pleaded not guilty in district court in April.
Chief District Attorney Chad Thompson conducted the opening statements for the State in which he established a timeline leading up to Gonzalez’s death and the supposed activities of Estrada-Puentes after.
He began by showing the jury a photo of the then 29-year-old Gonzalez where her body was found. He said her autopsy stated her injuries were consistent with death by strangulation.
The latter point was established by Dr. Piotr Kubiczek of the Washoe County Crime Lab, who will give testimony at a later time, said Thompson.
Thompson asked the jury return a verdict of guilty to first degree murder in order to hold Estrada-Puentes “accountable.”
Defense attorney Sherburne Macfarlan told the jury this was an opportunity to come before them and to set forth a theory of the case. In doing so, he delineated the differences within an open murder charge.
It includes first-degree murder and all lesser offenses. First-degree murder was said to include: “malice of forethought,” a deliberate attempt to kill, and premeditation.
Malice is a component to second-degree murder, while the latter two factors described above are not.
Voluntary manslaughter is prompted by “irresistible passion,” he said.
The defense, comprised of David Lockie and Macfarlan, was not in the court to deny Estrada-Puentes caused Gonzalez’s death, said Macfarlan.
“It’s a case about degree,” he said, explaining it was a result of passion.
Macfarlan presented other pieces of information concerning the investigation such as the trash of the Garcia Lane residence being collected by authorities and later examined to find condoms.
Also, the phone records of both Gonzalez and Estrada-Puentes were looked into by investigators, and the number of a man — who stated he began a relationship with Gonzalez shortly before her death — was found.
Macfarlan said the argument between the pair, overheard by their daughter K’iawna, then 5, was about relationships and infidelities.
The defense asked members of the jury to maintain an open mind and not jump to conclusions. Estrada-Puentes is guilty of voluntary manslaughter, said Macfarlan.
Beginning testimony for the Eduardo Estrada-Puentes trial included statements from his two daughters D’srey, 15, and K’iawna, 10, and his estranged wife’s parents Lidia and Chris Cortes.
The State called 12 witnesses — some of which were recalled — Wednesday, said Thompson.
These individuals consisted of the family of both Estrada-Puentes and Gonzales, a social worker who interviewed K’iawna about what she heard the day of the murder, and members of law enforcement who further established the timeline for what occurred five years ago.
This story has been corrected from the original version which stated Estrada-Puentes was claiming a defense of involuntary manslaughter.