Prosecutors and defense attorneys battle over how to interpret key evidence
AUSTIN, Texas - George De La Cruz has sat quietly through his murder trial. Monday morning Karen Ozment provided the jury with a different view of her neighbor.
"He appeared to kind of collapse a little bit on the frame of the door and his face turned white."
That incident Ozment testified was when De La Cruz overheard her conversation with another neighbor. They were talking about seeing his estranged wife, Julie Ann Gonzalez, at his house the day she disappeared.
Ozment claims De La Cruz later tried to explain why Gonzalez was seen being taken to his back yard shed by strangers.
"He was stating, consistently that Julie Ann had articles in the shed and she was retrieving those articles," said Ozment.
That story contradicts what the jury heard last week in this police interrogation video. De La Cruz told detectives Gonzalez had briefly stopped by his house and then disappeared after she asked him to watch their daughter for a few more days. Prosecutors want the jury to conclude that Julie Ann Gonzalez never left the house in March of 2010. That's why a lot of emphasis has been place on the activity in and around the back yard shed. The jury was told how De La Cruz's mother asked police to check a suspicious hole dug under the shed by.
"She was anxious, and I believe we even had to call an ambulance to the house because of her accelerated heart rate and her nerves," said APD Sgt Jeff Grennwalt .
The jury was also shown a burn spot Greenwalt noticed in the back yard. In the ashes remnants of clothing were found including part of a purple shoe string. While it all looked suspicious, defense attorneys were quick to point out that investigators did not find any blood, any hair, or fibers.
At the time of her disappearance, Julie Ann Gonzalez and George De La Cruz were going through a divorce. Her car was found abandoned at a South Austin Walgreens. While the scene seems curious, defense attorneys again focused on what wasn't found inside her car and that nothing was taking into evidence.
"At that particular point in time, I didn't think we needed it, it didn't appear there had been any foul play in that vehicle," said Det. David Gann.
Prosecutors claim De La Cruz covered up Gonzalez's death by texting messages from her phone and posting comments on her social media sites. The statements indicated she was starting a new life with a new boyfriend and was moving out of state. A hole was punched into the "she ran off to Colorado story." An engineer with AT&T testified the company tracked Gonzalez's phone and it never went to Colorado. It stopped transmitting about two days after she was last seen alive.