WORTHINGTON — Monday was Day Two of the trial of Christopher Kruse for murder in the first degree of his wife, Janette Pigman-Kruse, and jurors learned many of the details of the forensic analysis of the crime scene, as well as findings from the medical examiner's autopsy.
Prosecutors spent more than half the day questioning Joseph Cooksley from the forensic science branch of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Cooksley, who acted as the BCA's team leader at the Pigman-Kruse crime scene, is a specialist in bloodstain patterns and DNA analysis.
As part of Cooksley's testimony, the jury was shown a number of photos of the crime scene and Pigman-Kruse's body. As a preface to the graphic images, Fifth Judicial District Judge Terry Vajgrt instructed those seated in the gallery to not be "demonstrative" about any strong emotions they may feel while viewing the pictures, as such displays may distract the jury.
Cooksley explained that the BCA tests and analyzes the crime scene, while the medical examiner inspects the body itself.
Zoomed-in crime scene photos showed two spent shotgun shells outside the northwest bedroom where Pigman-Kruse was killed. They are labeled Winchester .12-gauge shells, three inches long, with a one-ounce load.
Of the five pillows on the bed where Pigman-Kruse was shot, four of them had holes and tested positive for the presence of lead. Some contained slug fragments; the one Pigman-Kruse was lying on also contained blood and tissue.
Cooksley explained that the BCA analyzed the trajectory of a shot that traveled through a pillow, penetrated the Kruses' headboard and went all the way through the exterior wall of the house. This shot appears to have missed Pigman-Kruse.
BCA agents determined that if the shooter was standing in the bedroom doorway, the errant shot would have been fired from about chest height on a six-foot-tall person.
Cooksley added that Pigman-Kruse was probably not under the covers when she was shot, as her legs were stained with blood.
Questioning from the defense offset some of the implications of the prosecutors. Attorney Steven Groschen had Cooksley confirm that trajectory analysis is imperfect and that blood stain analysis done on photographs of the scene — not on the scene itself — is dependent on picture quality and — again — not a perfect science.
Groschen also showed photographs of the ammunition boxes found in Kruse's home, garage and truck, none of which match the two shells found at the scene of the crime.
Another point of disagreement is if Kruse could have left the house after allegedly shooting Pigman-Kruse. The defense displayed photos that show a wet driveway all the way up to a stretch of ground underneath the eaves of the garage. That part was dry, with no wet tire tracks. Although the prosecution argued that photos of the inside of the garage show a few places on the floor that might be wet, Cooksley couldn't say for sure whether or not it had been wet in the garage.
Also from the BCA, retired Lt. Dave Schaffer from the homicide unit was called to the witness stand. He interviewed Christopher Kruse on Aug. 20, 2015, the day after Pigman-Kruse's death. He asked Kruse to recall the incident in as much detail as possible. It was during that interview that Kruse revealed he had a shop down the road, and that he kept some firearms there.
Kruse gave verbal and written consent to search the shop and brought law enforcement to the building. There were no signs of forced entry, and the door was locked.
In the office area of the shop, law enforcement discovered two .12-gauge shotguns, one an uncased Remington 870. They also found a box of ammunition labeled Winchester Super X .12-gauge shots, 2-3/4 inches, with one-ounce loads.
Medical examiner Dr. Michael McGee also testified Monday. He explained the three steps of an autopsy: 1) external exam, 2) internal exam and 3) lab analysis. Findings from all three steps are combined to determine a cause of death.
In cases like Pigman-Kruse's, in which the autopsy is part of a criminal investigation, a fourth step is added: processing. Processing includes collecting all possible evidence, such as hair and nail samples and a sexual assault examination. Following processing, the examiner washes the body so wounds can be better viewed and analyzed.
McGee shared that as a result of his autopsy, he determined that Pigman-Kruse died from "exsanguination due to a gunshot wound to the torso." He said he could tell by the characteristics of her shoulder wound that it was caused by a shotgun slug and was technically a "re-entrance wound," meaning it had hit something else first.
Pigman-Kruse also had a graze wound on her right hand/wrist, but no injuries on the inside of her forearm, suggesting that there was no physical fight.
McGee described it as a "distance shot," or a shot where only the ammunition itself — no smoke or soot — reaches the body. Although the average distance shot is at least six feet away, he added, the weapon in question would have to be test-fired to determine a more accurate measurement. He guessed that whoever shot Pigman-Kruse was probably standing at the foot of the bed.
McGee added that in all likelihood, Pigman-Kruse was sitting up in bed, legs uncovered, her right hand reaching out and her body leaning forward slightly. She was probably awake when she was shot, and the lead would have grazed her hand before hitting her shoulder.
Although the shot didn't enter Pigman-Kruse's chest cavity, it fractured ribs 2 through 9 and damaged her right lung. Her death was not instantaneous; she probably took between three and five minutes to bleed out.
The toxicology screen run during the autopsy revealed only caffeine present in Pigman-Kruse's body — no other drugs or alcohol.
Throughout the presentation of evidence, Kruse was visibly upset. He looked away from all photos of Pigman-Kruse's body or blood, and he paced the hallway during recess. His attorneys checked on his well-being multiple times during the day's court proceedings.