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The Kristine Fitzhugh Case

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 3, 2001, 12:45 p.m.

Defense says Fitzhugh traumatized after seeing wife's body
Nolan: Blood splatters in kitchen not enough to pinpoint murder location

by Bill D'Agostino

Kenneth Fitzhugh suffered such trauma after seeing the badly beaten body of his wife of 33 years that he did not remember putting his polo shirt and running shoes, containing blood of the wife, in his Chevy Suburban, defense attorney Thomas Nolan said in his opening statements on Monday.

Testimony continued today with a friend of Kristine Fitzhugh and a Mountain View police investigator.

The Fitzhugh's two dogs, Reina and Boots, are turning into key witnesses. Nolan said that the reason Fitzhugh went to his car after discovering Kristine Fitzhugh's body was to check on the Pomeranian and poodle . He absentmindedly put the clothes in the car, Nolan said, where police later found them stashed under the Chevy's driver seat and floorboard. When investigators asked Fitzhugh about the items later, Nolan said that he was "dumbfounded" how the clothes got into his car because the trauma of the days events had scarred him into repressing the memory.

Nolan also plans to argue that the beating happened in the basement, not the kitchen as Deputy District Attorney Michael Fletcher argued in his opening statement. The reason Nolan knows this? There wasn't enough blood discovered in the kitchen. With a beating as severe as the one Kristine Fitzhugh underwent, Nolan said there would be blood on the ceiling.

He told the jury that the blood discovered in the kitchen by the chemical Luminol, was both too small and not certain to be Kristine's. Luminol, Nolan explained, will pick up animal blood (from steak, for example) and reveal it the same way as human blood. Overall, he said, the murder scene investigation was shoddy and lacking. He also criticized the Police Department's unwillingness to investigate any possible witnesses other than his client, Kenneth Fitzhugh.

On Monday afternoon, Fletcher began presenting the people's case, showing a dramatic videotape tour of the Fitzhugh's' home right after the murder. Bookended between silent images of the family's home and cars were grisly shots of Kristine Fitzhugh's body lying at the foot of the basement stairs. The gruesome images included close-ups of her badly beaten face and the blood which had poured out of her head.

Fletcher's witnesses included a store manager from Peet's Coffee where Kristine purchased some coffee and food just before the murder, and a FedEx driver, who both helped to lay out a general timeframe for the murder.

Gaelyn Mason, a fellow schoolteacher with Kristine and a Fitzhugh family friend for eight years, testified late Monday and this morning. She was one of two women who accompanied Kenneth Fitzhugh to the home to find out why Kristine, a music teacher, had missed her morning class.

After discovering her dead body, Mason helped Kenneth Fitzhugh give his wife CPR by administering the chest compressions. Her account of the defendant's actions and whereabouts that day will be key in determining whether Fitzhugh did in fact go back to the car with the shirt and shoes.

At one point after finding the body, Mason alleged that Fitzhugh said, "I'm sorry I got you involved in this."

After checking up on Kristine, Kenneth and the two women had been planning to pick up casino tables for Mason's birthday party, which was to have held been the day after Kristine was murdered.




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