Bruises and open cuts on her body showed that Pamela Vitale put up a fierce struggle after an intruder attacked in her home, a sheriff’s investigator testified Monday.
“A lot of them appeared to have been defensive injuries,” said Alex Taflya, a criminalist with the Contra Costa County crime lab, referring to photographs a prosecutor projected for jurors.
The jury in the trial of Scott Dyleski saw for the first time photographs of the victim and the modular home where she and her husband Daniel Horowitz were living on Oct. 15, 2005 while they built a mansion nearby.
During much of Monday’s testimony, Dyleski gazed at the front of the courtroom, watching each witness, occasionally wiping his nose.
He turned his head toward the screen to view each photograph depicting the bloody crime scene.
Vitale’s family members often looked down, averting their eyes, while the prosecutor showed photos of her body. In addition to her children, her parents and Horowitz’s parents were in the audience.
Jewett first showed jurors photographs investigators took outside the house in the early evening.
Porch lights glowed in front of a dark blue dusk sky. Each picture brought jurors closer to the front door, which was open and smeared with blood.
Vitale lay just inside, curled in a fetal position, behind the door. Blood covered the back of it, some smeared by hands covered with gloves, Taflya said.
Other photos showed the home’s interior, depicting tight quarters with piles of papers and books, some scattered after a struggle.
Boxes and papers lay on the floor, spilled and strewn around. A collection of family photographs sat on an end table. A broken coffee cup smeared with blood was in the sink.
Taflya showed the jury a broken piece of pottery found near Vitale. Blood stained the edges of the broken portion, he said.
But he ruled it out as a murder weapon.
“There is not enough blood on the pot,” he testified. “The pot would probably have shattered after a few blows.”
Daniel Horowitz was just inside his front door when, as he dropped his bags of groceries in shock, he saw his wife lying dead in the home they shared on a Lafayette hillside.
“It was like a crime scene photograph,” Horowitz testified Tuesday, shaking his head. “I knew it wasn’t.”
“Even though I knew she was dead, I reached and touched her,” Horowitz said, placing two fingers against his own neck as if checking for a pulse.
He said a bad feeling crept up on him when he saw his wife’s car parked in the home’s driveway. He had expected her to be at the ballet.
“I didn’t think too much,” he said. “I just knew it wasn’t good.”
Answering deputy district attorney Harold Jewett’s questions about the couple’s life together, Horowitz sometimes smiled, raising his eyebrows with enthusiasm, recounting the mansion his wife was designing and all the paperwork and materials that cluttered their temporary home.
He said he last talked to his wife the night before her death.
“We watched television,” he said. We spoke. I went to bed. She stayed up.”
Under questioning by Leonida, Horowitz said he was unsure whether anyone had compromised Vitale’s credit cards, banking or other financial accounts.
“Truthfully, I haven’t looked at anything,” he said. “I wouldn’t know.”
Interesting that both articles say that the murder weapon has yet to be revealed.