Updated: January 20, 2017
ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Friday morning’s court proceeding was the best chance so far for the defense to cast doubt on someone other than Todd Smith for the murder of his wife Katrina.
Guy Gabriel, a colleague of Katrina's at Cameron Industries, who also had a relationship with her after she separated from Todd, took the stand.
Gabriel says his relationship changed with Katrina after an October 4th meeting where she asked him for advice on hiring a divorce attorney. Gabriel says the two went for a walk in a park in Belvidere on October 8, the day before someone distributed fliers at work, claiming the two had an intimate relationship. Gabriel says Katrina called him, very upset and embarrassed. He also says she couldn't figure out how Todd was able to follow her. Gabriel says he and Katrina did not have an intimate relationship at the time.
He went on to read several text messages he sent to Katrina the day she disappeared. Many centered around the conversation Katrina had with Todd, at his home that night. Katrina was there doing laundry because the washing machine at the condo where she was staying was broken. Gabriel says Katrina was upset because Todd said he'd consider adoption, something Katrina wanted but Todd originally didn't. In many of the messages Gabriel says he's encouraging Katrina to tell Todd she wants a divorce and explain her feelings to him. He says he was simply encouraging her to do what she told him so many times she wanted. The defense however tried to portray it as Gabriel being pushy and trying to destroy a marriage.
When Gabriel was asked if Katrina actually told Todd she wanted a divorce, he said he thought she said she did, however in many of the messages after that part of the conversation Gabriel contributed to talk to Katrina about telling Todd her feelings and that the marriage was over.
Gabriel says the last text he sent Katrina was at 8:33pm. He says he got a delayed response, which was unusual.
Gabriel has a solid alibi for the night Katrina disappeared. He worked overnight at Cameron Industries, 6pm-4:30am.
Gabriel says he met Todd and Katrina's stepfather Bruce Edlund two days after her disappearance. When questioned by Todd, Gabriel says he told him he knew Katrina was at Todd’s house the night she went missing and told Todd he should worry about finding his wife.
During cross-examination the defense brought up a text Gabriel sent to Katrina, saying he'd come to fix the broken washing machine on Friday. Defense attorney Margie O'Connor questioned him on the message, asking if it was actually about sex, service if Katrina and not the washing machine. Gabriel said it was possible but wasn't sure.
O'Connor also tried discrediting Gabriel, bringing up the fact he had a revoked drivers license at the time of Katrina's disappearance. Despite not legally being able to drive, he followed police officers to the Roscoe Police Department. O'Connor also brought up a pending domestic violence case Gabriel has in DeKalb County for allegedly abusing his wife in December 2016. When asked if he was trying to get a better deal on that case by helping with this Gabriel said no.
O'Connor also questioned Gabriel about other possible relationships he had with women at work. He says there were two Hispanic women he worked with. O'Connor pressed he flirted with them and said they were interested in him, however Gabriel said he couldn't remember and couldn't speak to how they felt.
Throughout the trial, the defense has maintained police didn't investigate enough other suspects, saying they focused in on Todd too quickly. Gabriel says police searched his trailer where he lived in Chana, went to the Sheriff's Department to give a statement, and had fingerprints taken.
More testimony was also heard Friday morning about the statement Todd made to detectives about blood in Katrina's car, before it had been processed. Det. John Berg says he's the one who spoke with Katrina's family. He says he made no comments about blood in the car, and again said it had t been processed yet so no one knew blood was in the trunk.
Adam Peterson also testified, showing the surveillance video from a camera mounted in his home, which at the time was located at the corner of Elm Ave. and Ashdown Place. A person is seen walking south on Elm, then turning east on Ashdown Pl. Defense made the argument no one can tell if the person is a man or a woman, much less Todd Smith.
Officer Ryan Kelly, the Roscoe Police Officer who initially talked to Todd testified Katrina's husband said he last saw her at his house at 9pm. Kelly says when he asked if Katrina had ever been depressed or abused drugs or alcohol he said no.
Testimony continues Friday afternoon. Follow our reporter, Marissa Lesner on Twitter for live updates through the day, @MarissaLesner23 or by searching for #ToddSmithTrial.
Updated: January 19, 2017
UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Testimony will resume Friday morning.
Judge Fernando Engelsma said all 14 jurors will be present and ready to go at 9am Friday.
One juror was sick, pushing back testimony, however attorneys are working on jury instructions.
Updated: January 19, 2017
UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Testimony is on hold until Thursday afternoon in the Todd Smith murder trial.
Judge Fernando Engelsma made the announcement Thursday morning, telling everyone to come back at 1:30pm.
23 News was told a juror was sick. There are alternates that could be used in that person's place if need be.
In the meantime, attorneys will work on jury instructions, a necessary part of the process that typically takes several hours. Judge Engelsma says this is a way to make the best out of the jury's time.
Updated: January 18, 2017
UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- For the first time, jurors, Katrina Smith’s family, and the court sees the gruesome and heartbreaking pictures of the Machesney Park woman’s bruised and muddy body.
Pictures from her autopsy were shown in court as Dr. Mark Peters, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy, testified to her injuries and cause of death. The pictures showed two cuts on the back of Katrina’s scalp, one very large, and five cuts on the top of her head, about one to two inches in length each. Dr. Peters says Katrina had hemorrhaging beneath her scalp, however, her skull was not broken. Her face was so red and bruised it was barely recognizable. Her arms, legs, and torso also had deep, dark bruises.
Dr. Peters says Katrina died from blunt trauma to her head with or without asphyxia. He says he’s not sure if Katrina died before she was put in the river. He testified the blows to her head may not have killed Katrina instantly, however they may have been enough to knock her unconscious. Dr. Peters says the blows to Katrina’s head were made by a cylindrical object, like a bat, but couldn’t say for sure what the object was that killed her.
During cross examination, Dr. Peters says the object could have been a smaller cylindrical object, like a broom stick. He was also questioned about how much blood would have been at the crime scene. He says one hit would have produced little blood, but each hit after that would create more and more. He also admitted some of Katrina’s injuries could have happened when she was thrown in the trunk.
Detective Ryan Heavin says he found information about what’s called a Super Trackstick, which is a GPS monitoring device. You may remember, detectives found a clip for a GPS device in Todd Smith’s house. Det. Heavin says that clip matches the Super Trackstick, and the clip was modified to fit a wire, which happened to be found on the undercarriage of Katrina’s car. She was worried in the weeks leading up to her death Todd was tracking her movements. Det. Heavin says the model used was a historical tracker, meaning it didn’t tell in real time where something is located, rather, it gives information about where someone has been, and can be uploaded to Google maps.
Blake Aper from the Illinois State Police Crime Lab testified about the testing he did on several objects. He says no blood was found on the black hiking boots taken from Todd’s house, however blood was found on paper towels, a pink towel found in Katrina’s trunk, and the trunk bed itself. All of that blood matched Katrina’s DNA. Her DNA was also found in the blood on the bat taken from Todd’s house. When Aper tested the substance on the garage step, it originally did not come back as blood, however he tested the DNA anyway. He says it came back positive for three types of DNA, a major contributor he says was Katrina. He couldn’t figure out who the other two were because there wasn’t enough of a sample.
Testimony continues this afternoon. Follow our reporter, Marissa Lesner on Twitter for live updates, @MarissaLesner23, or search for #ToddSmithTrial for up to the minute details on what’s happening throughout the day.
Updated: January 17, 2017
UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Descriptions of a very tired and distracted Todd Smith, the morning after his wife Katrina’s disappearance. Business clients say Smith told them his new puppy kept him up all night.
It's just another of the many pieces of evidence prosecutors say prove he killed his wife and dumped her body in the Rock River. It was a difficult day in court for Katrina’s family as an investigator described the Machesney Park woman's badly bruised body. She was beaten to death and investigator Michael Pearson says she had five cuts on her head. One he says was a long circular cut.
Tuesday morning Todd's friend, drew Anderson took the stand, talking about Todd's reaction in November when Todd couldn't find the bat he thought was in the corner of the garage.
"I was walking there and I didn't really know what I was looking for and so I asked and Todd asked is there a bat over there? And I proceeded to say no,” Anderson said. Prosecutors questioned him, “and when you indicated it was not a bat, did you see Todd Smith?” Anderson replied, “Yes. I observed that he looked a little distraught after I told him what the answer was."
Sweet dreams, I love you. It was a text to Katrina Smith’s phone that she never got. Prosecutors say it was from her estranged husband Todd, likely after he killed her. It was one of many texts revealed in court.
Another text could be a motive for murder. Katrina was texting with Guy Gabriel the evening of October 22nd, the night she went missing. Detective Nick Cunningham who pulled their phone records, says Katrina told Gabriel while at Todd’s house that night she wanted a divorce. Gabriel then replied saying you can't control his reaction, but if he loves you he'll understand.
Cunningham says Gabriel sent Katrina a three-part message at 9:24pm. Only two of the three messages were opened. That chilling message from Todd saying sweet dreams, I love you, was sent at 11:24pm. It also was never opened.
Meanwhile, one of Todd’s clients, Thomas Lynch, met with him at 9am the next day. Lynch says Todd wasn't engaged in the meeting, saying it didn't seem like he was listening and looked extremely tired. Lynch says Todd told him he was up all night with a new puppy. Another client testified to the same thing.
Finally, the trail of evidence. Detective Cunningham looked at cell phone pings and says around 2:45pm Todd was in the area where Katrina’s car and cell phone were found. About 15 minutes later he was at the condo where Katrina was staying. Detective Cunningham says shortly after getting a call from Roscoe Police Todd was in the area of South Main Street in Rockford where Katrina’s wallet was found.
Defense Attorney Margie O’Connor argued there were many businesses in all those areas. She says Todd could have been at a store or restaurant. She also continued to hammer away at parts of the detectives investigations. Many of the pieces of evidence were tagged with the wrong date. Investigators say it was a glitch with the computer system. However it's another way the defense is trying to plant seeds of doubt in jurors’ minds.
Katrina was worried Todd was tracking her. Detective Cunningham says a clip for a GPS tracking device was found in Todd’s desk. Investigator Michael Pearson says while inspecting Todd’s laptop he found tracking software that was removed from the laptop three days after Katrina’s disappearance.
Updated: January 13, 2017
UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- To the naked eye, Katrina Smith's car appeared clean, but a closer look finds large amounts of blood in the trunk. The steering wheel, stick shift, and driver's seat also had blood on them, and a long piece of hair was caught in a hinge on the trunk.
That testimony came on day three of the Todd Smith murder trial. He's accused of killing his wife Katrina, in October 2012.
Crime Scene Investigator Tim Speer testified about the blood he found in Katrina's car. He also says the car was wiped clean before it was left on the side of Obispo Ave. in Machesney Park.
Speer also testified Katrina's purse was found about 500 feet from her car in a wooded area. Her cell phone was found in a bush in the 700 block of Ralston Road, which is also the same area. Her wallet was then found at S. Main St. and Lane St. in Rockford.
It was an emotional morning in court for Katrina's family as pictures of her muddy body were shown after it was pulled from the Rock River in Byron on November 9. Byron Firefighter Ryan Bruce was the one who found her. He was fishing in the evening on October 31 and his boat was caught on a log. While stuck he thought he saw a piece of trash, but it was too dark to make out exactly what it was. After hearing of Katrina's disappearance on November 9 he decided to go back out and take a closer look. What he thought was trash or debris was in fact Katrina Smith.
The morning started with the continued testimony of Det. Vince Lindberg, who was a lead investigator on the case. Defense attorney Margie O'Connor held nothing back in a hard line of questioning. O'Connor seemed to criticize Det. Lindberg for his note-taking skills, perhaps creating some doubt if a comment he says Todd made about blood in Katrina's car, actually happened. That comment came before the car had been processed, so no one knew it was there.
O'Connor also pointed out small inconsistencies in Det. Lindberg's testimony like misreading a statement, and saying Norman Ave. instead of Normandy Ave.
She also questioned the detective about lying to Todd Smith. Det. Lindberg admitted to lying to Smith on some occasions, saying it is allowed. One example was when Todd was asked to come down to the sheriff's department to look at pictures. Det. Lindberg says he never planned on showing Smith any photos.
O'Connor also questioned Det. Lindberg about not recording any conversations with Todd. He explained when those conversations took place Todd was not a suspect, and therefore not recorded.
In opening statements the defense argued detectives didn't investigate other suspects and focused in on Todd. However in cross examination, Det. Lindberg named off several people who were considered as persons of interest in the case.
Updated: January 12, 2017
UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- It's a statement and knowledge of the crime that even shocked detectives on the case. That comment, made by Todd Smith to detectives is enough many think points to him as the person who killed his wife Katrina in October 2012.
Detective Vince Lindberg says Todd called him just days after Katrina disappeared upset, Todd said, because a detective told Katrina’s family that her blood was found in her car. However, Det. Lindberg says no one ever said that, in fact, the car hadn't been processed so even they didn't know there was blood in Katrina’s car.
"He then changed his account where he got the information and said it was through the grapevine or through a blog," Det. Lindberg explained during trial.
That was one of many changing stories described by several witnesses during testimony on Thursday.
Actions speak louder than words and many times for detectives looking for a suspect, that statement couldn't be more true. In this case Detective Lindberg says Todd’s demeanor was very suspicious, acting very nervous.
"He got a little bit louder with me, red in the face, he started rubbing his head again, he put his head down, trying to make up for what he had said," Det. Lindberg said.
That was Todd’s reaction, Det. Lindberg says after Todd told two different stories about what Katrina was doing the night she disappeared.
When asked about his marriage Todd told detectives it was fine, that there was no talk of a divorce, but that wasn’t true. We heard on Wednesday Katrina had met with a divorce attorney, and the two were legally separated. She was living in a friend's condo, but that's not what Katrina’s best friend, Ashley Cygan, says Todd told her.
"I asked him if they had had a fight, if she just left for a while to clear her head, he said no, everything had been fine. She went to Kelly’s condo to check on the place as she had been doing and she never came back," Cygan said during testimony.
We also saw a piece of evidence, boots found in Todd’s house. Investigators say they were soaking wet the day after Katrina disappeared, which was on a rainy night. Detectives say there was a trail of evidence from the Latham Bridge to where Katrina’s car was found. Plus there was video of a person walking from the area in the direction of Todd’s house.
The defense will get the chance to cross examine Det. Lindberg first thing in Friday morning.
For up to the minute updates on the trial follow Marissa Lesner on Twitter, @MarissaLesner23 or by searching for #ToddSmithTrial
Updated: January 12, 2017
UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- It's a tale of changing stories coming out during testimony at the Todd Smith murder trial.
Detective Vince Lindberg says after Katrina's disappearance Todd called him, upset, saying Katrina's family was told blood was found in her car. The thing is, Det. Lindberg says the car hadn't been processed yet, and even he didn't know Katrina's blood was inside her car.
When Det. Lindberg later asked Todd about that statement, he backtracked saying he must have heard it through the grapevine or read it on a blog. During testimony it came out Todd had changing stories about other situations as well. Katrina's best friend says when she learned Katrina was missing she talked to Todd. He told her Katrina was checking on a friend’s empty condo and never came home, saying their marriage was great. That actually wasn't the case. Katrina and Todd had separated, she was living at that condo, and wanted a divorce. Detective Lindberg says there were also inconsistencies with Todd's story about what Katrina was doing the night she vanished. We also heard more about what some describe as Todd's lackluster efforts to find Katrina. One woman says he was on his phone during a search.
“I made the comment about “well he’s not doing anything” and he just kinda [sic] looked at me, he was on the phone and he just kept saying something about, just kinda kept brushing himself off, like he was getting upset that grass or things were on him. That was about it,” recounts Victoria Lehrke who was involved in search for Katrina.
Defense attorneys made the argument Vicky Lehrke didn't know what Todd was doing on his phone, saying it could have had something to do with the search efforts. They also questioned why detectives took a pair of boots into evidence which had no blood on them, but were muddy and filled with grass and debris.
Updated: January 11, 2017
UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Prosecutors paint a picture of a crumbling marriage and controlling husband who was tracking his wife's movements in the days before her death as they begin the murder trial of Todd Smith.
Smith is accused of killing his wife, Katrina Smith in October 2012.
Prosecutors say all the evidence points to Todd Smith as Katrina's killer. They say he was the last person to see her before she disappeared on October 30. They say her blood was found on a baseball bat in Todd's garage and tracking information from her car was on his computer.
Katrina's boss, Christina Gonzalez-Buyak, says Katrina talked of her wishes for a divorce and said Todd was controlling. Gonzalez-Buyak says Katrina was worried Todd was tracking her through her cell phone. She also talked about an incident where hundreds of fliers were distributed in the parking lot at work on October 9, the day after Katrina moved out of Todd's house. It accused Katrina of having an affair with a coworker, Guy Gabriel. In previous hearings, prosecutors said they found those fliers on Todd's computer.
Katrina's step-father Bruce Edlund says she was worried for her safety. Text messages were shown in court where Katrina is asking Bruce about how to get a FOID card so she could get a gun. She also asks if she needs the card to go to a shooting range.
Edlund also talked about the searches for Katrina in the weeks she was missing. He says Todd was there, but didn't help much, saying he wasn't enthusiastic and didn't do a thorough search.
Edlund says Todd was the beneficiary of a $330,000 life insurance policy. He says Katrina was the breadwinner of the family.
Defense attorneys however presented a different picture. One of a loving husband, worried about his wife who was singled out in a bad police investigation. In opening statements defense attorney Kristine Barton says the evidence is unclear and inconclusive, saying investigators couldn't figure out the case, so they stretched the evidence to tie it to Todd. Barton says the real suspects were never investigated.
Defense attorneys also tried poking holes in the prosecutions characterization of Katrina as a conservative church-going woman. They say in the month before her death she started drinking and had an affair with her coworker Guy Gabriel. However Edlund, who confirmed the affair, said she wasn't acting differently and says the affair just shows how unhappy Katrina was in her marriage.
Katrina's body was found on November 9 in the Rock River near Byron.
If convicted Smith could face life in prison.
Updated: January 10, 2017
UPDATE: ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – After having a difficult time finding jurors Monday, eleven jurors have been selected for the murder trial against Todd Smith, the man accused of killing his wife Katrina and leading us on a search for her body.
Smith is accused of killing Katrina Back in 2012. Smith faces 20 to 60 years in prison if convicted, and if prosecutors can prove the murder was evil, cruel, and cold-blooded it’s possible that he can get up to 100 years in prison.
Twelve jurors are needed to move forward with the trial, plus alternates.
Posted: January 9, 2016
ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – He pleaded for her safe return and now faces charges for her death. Jury selection was underway Monday in the murder trial for Todd Smith, the man accused of killing his wife Katrina Smith in October 2012.
Before Todd Smith’s trial was even close to beginning, nearly a year ago Judge John Truitt said there’s enough circumstantial evidence that could prove Smith is guilty of his wife’s murder. Judge Truitt has since retired and Judge Fernando Englesma is now presiding over the case.
After hours of questioning, no jurors have been selected.
“I just want her to come home or call or let us know that she’s safe. Katrina, please,” Smith told 23 News in an interview in 2012.
Now, police say Katrina Smith’s husband Todd is the one who killed her and covered it up. During a hearing to allow hearsay evidence in the trial, we learned Katrina was going to her estranged husband’s house to ask for a divorce on October 22, 2012, the night she disappeared. Text messages and spoken conversations between Katrina and friends of her plans for divorce will be allowed in the trial.
Katrina’s body was found about two weeks later, in the Rock River near Byron.
Autopsy photos will likely also be used in the trial, showing bruises all over Katrina’s body which experts testified during those previous hearings were made before her death. She had several gashes on her head and blunt force trauma was ruled as her cause of death.
Pictures taken by deputies show evidence of blood in the trunk of Katrina’s car and on a baseball bat found in Todd’s house. An expert says Todd’s DNA was not found on any of those items.
Jury selection is expected to take two to three days. Marissa Lesner will be in the courtroom once opening statements begin and 23 News will have comprehensive coverage and analysis every step of the way, all the way to the verdict and reaction after the trial is over.
Smith faces up 20 to 60 years in prison if convicted. If prosecutors can prove the murder was evil, cruel, and cold-blooded, he can get up to 100 years in prison.