LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — Tuesday was a continuation of the Christopher Smelser trial, the officer accused of killing Antonio Valenzuela.
Multiple witnesses took the stand including Smelser’s partner who he was with the night of the incident stand to recall his version of the events
Tuesday’s testimony featured officer Andrew Tuton, who was partnered with Smelser for only a year at that point, along with body cam footage of the night in question. Tuton explained the how the incident went down, as they were the ones who initiated the traffic stop.
When asked if Valenzuela gave them correct information Tuton said yes and that he was overall compliant. However, when they asked him to exit his vehicle, Valenzuela ran and the fight between the two began.
As Tuton recalled the incident, recall his state of mind, he repeatedly broke down.
“I saw his right-hand reach around the area where his gun was and I said don’t reach and I yelled that twice and I didn’t know how it was going to happen but I was certain I was going to get shot like I knew in that moment I was going to get shot.”
The state proceeded to ask him if he was laughing with the defendant after the altercation which he confirmed
Dr. Lauren Dvorscka also took the stand to go over the autopsy report that was done on Valenzuela. While she did not perform the autopsy herself, she was supervising the procedure.
What she stated they found was petechial hemorrhage in his eyes which she described as seen in deaths that have to due with lack of oxygen. She testified that there were multiple abrasions on Valenzuela’s body including his neck, lower back, and thighs.
She also stated that they did find a deep throat thyroid cartilage fracture. She did discuss the methamphetamine found in his system and said that there was significant contribution to the physiological state of his death.
When the defense proceeded to ask her if the injuries alone could have caused Valenzuela’s death she said there can’t be one without the other
“The cause of his death is the asphyxia injuries, but the contributory condition is there and that is the methamphetamine use so I can’t separate them and say this one without this would have definitely caused death I can’t say that because they both happened together.” The defense continued to ask if the injuries alone could have caused Valenzuela’s death but Dr. Dvorscak continue to say that the culmination of the whole context of the case is what led to the persons death.
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