A 65-year-old Navajo woman testified Thursday that she heard gunshots near her home on the night two tribal police officers were beaten, shot, and burned to death.
"I heard the sound of the bullet. I heard it once. Then I heard it a second time . . . I heard it three times," said Rosie Cly through an interpreter. "At the time that it happened, I was very frightened."Cly was one of several witnesses called by federal prosecutors Thursday in the second day of the retrial of Ben Atene Jr. on two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of officers Roy Lee Stanley and Andy Begay.
Cly said she lives close to the site where prosecutors believe the officers were shot at a Dec. 4 drinking party and later taken to Copper Canyon where they were burned to death in a police panel truck.
The 12-woman jury also listened to testimony from Dr. Thomas Henry, the medical examiner who examined the charred remains of the officers' bodies. Henry testified that both men died of smoke inhalation and thermal burns. Both officers were "alive and breathing at the time of the fire," he said.
Henry also said he found no evidence of gunshot wounds in either body, but could not rule out the possibility that the men were shot because only about 25 percent of each body was left to examine.
Under cross-examination, Henry admitted that he was not able to determine whether the men were conscious at the time their police trucks were burned. "They were breathing at the time of the fire, whether they were conscious or not," said Henry.
The medical examiner also said he discovered evidence that Stanley received "some sort of blunt trauma" to his spleen and kidney area in his middle back "as long as a couple of hours prior to his death." Prosecutors believe Stanley was kicked in the back and beaten before being shot.
Defense attorney Loren Weiss argued that such an injury could have occurred by a fall and not necessarily by a kick or a beating.
Earlier in the day, former FBI agent James Brooks narrated a videotape that depicted the removal of the charred officers' bodies from the burned police truck. The tape was made Dec. 7, 1987, and showed the site that had been sealed off after local law officers found the bodies on Dec. 5.
He also identified two burned revolvers found at the scene, a pair of handcuffs, a badge and other clothing and personal items. Brooks acknowledged under cross-examination that none of the items found in the canyon linked Atene to the scene.
Three Navajo tribal officers also testified Thursday of their roles in securing the areas where the crimes allegedly occurred and the evidence gathered.
John Philip Clark Jr., a chaplain for the Navajo police, told jurors he found a pair of eyeglasses Dec. 13 while surveying one of the crime areas. He said the glasses were severely bent and folded "as if they could have been thrown."
Kim Weighous, a licensed optician from Flagstaff, Ariz., testified that those glasses were purchased in his store by Stanley in 1986. He said he analyzed the glasses and the original order and prescription and said he was certain the glasses belonged to Stanley.
In August, a jury convicted co-defendants Thomas Cly, 22, and Vinton Bedoni, 31, on murder charges in the death of Stanley and Begay. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene declared a mistrial for Atene, 24, when the jury was unable to deliver a verdict.