Testimony at Alois Kudlach’s trial in the shooting death of his wife, Nuria, continued Tuesday with police showing more about the crime scene and the couple’s relationship.
Kudlach is charged with first- and third-degree murder, aggravated assault, possession of a weapon and interception of communication, all stemming from the August 2015 death of his wife at their College Township home. Kudlach says the shooting was in self-defense.
State College police Detective John Aston took the stand again, picking up where his testimony left off Monday.
On Tuesday, he described the process of pulling data evidence from the four cellular telephones recovered at the scene, including a recorded argument between the defendant and his wife.
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Defense attorney Karen Muir had her chance to cross-examine Aston, and called into question the accuracy of Aston’s search warrants. She also questioned the thoroughness of the investigation, asking Aston why certain items weren’t collected from the home, such as a hammer that was allegedly used to smash a broken cellphone found at the scene.
Aston spent a large part of his previous testimony describing his walk-through of the Kudlach home the day of the shooting with photographic and physical evidence.
Shortly before recess, the Kudlachs’ son, Alex, 20, took the stand to be questioned by District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller. Early testimony from the son indicated his parents’ relationship was a “difficult time.”
Alex Kudlach was present at the time of the shooting and was taken with his father for questioning after the police response on Aug. 30, 2015, when his mother was killed.
Questioned by Parks Miller, Alex Kudlach testified to the type of atmosphere the family shared in their College Township home.
“All three of us had our arguments,” he said.
The family had moved to State College from Johnstown three years prior, he said, following some trouble he had at school. It was this trouble that he said his mother would occasionally hold over his head, further straining their relationship.
He said he and his father would discuss what would happen if the family split and he and his father lived together.
Alex Kudlach also testified about an argument between his parents the night before the shooting. He witnessed his mother with a hammer — his father would later tell him his mother used the hammer to smash a cellphone containing pornographic images.
The family also had an argument lasting about an hour and a half the morning of the shooting, he said, during which his father presented his mother with a kitchen knife and asked if she was going to use it to threaten them again.
Alois Kudlach claims self-defense in his wife’s death, saying she threatened him with the knife.
Alex Kudlach said his mother went into the kitchen after the argument. His father told him to “stay put.” Alex Kudlach said he didn’t recall hearing his parents arguing from the kitchen, and only recalled hearing two shots fired.
He entered the kitchen when the final shot was fired, he said. He saw his mother slumping against the far wall, and his father was unloading the pistol and laying it on a nearby counter. His father then called 911.
He testified to Muir that while he saw “tension” in his parents’ relationship, his father worked to keep the family together. He knew of no other incidents of violence between his parents.
Alex Kudlach also verified that his father never said the family would be better off if his mom were dead.
Jurors also heard extensive testimony by Dr. Harry Kamerow, the pathologist who performed Nuria Kudlach’s autopsy.
Muir initially objected to Kamerow’s testimony, calling his status as an expert witness into question because he is not certified in forensic pathology. Kamerow argued that his role as an anatomical pathologist provides the necessary training to perform forensic examinations.
Centre County Judge Jonathan D. Grine ruled that the court would accept Kamerow’s testimony.
Through a presentation of photographic evidence, Kamerow walked the jury through the injuries found on Nuria Kudlach’s body — how the initial shot pierced her left forearm and right hand before traveling into her abdomen, the second shot creating superficial wounds on her chest and abdomen with the final shot to her head delivering the fatal wound.
Assuming she was holding a knife, Parks Miller asked Kamerow if these wounds would cause the knife found at the scene to have blood on it. In his opinion, Kamerow said, it would.
Previous photographic evidence of the knife found at the scene showed a knife virtually free of blood.
While Kamerow testified that the second and third shots appeared to have been fired from a position above Nuria Kudlach, he admitted to Muir that he had never been told Alois Kudlach’s height. Muir also questioned why Kamerow refused a meeting with her after admitting to speaking to detectives and the District Attorney’s Office on different occasions.
Kamerow responded by saying no one in the police department or District Attorney’s Office suggested what the nature of the shooting may have been.
“I’m not interested in opinion, I’m interested in facts,” he said.
The trial is scheduled to continue through Friday.