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Judge considers motion to recall witness in Strong trial
Yuma County Superior Court Judge John Nelson, who is presiding over the bench trial of Preston Strong, said he would consider a defense motion to recall an expert witness over the differences in her testimony and a newly-prepared report from the prosecution.
The defense contends that Dr. Santinder Gill was browsing the Internet until 4:14 p.m., when he accessed his Bank of American web site, and that there was Internet activity afterward. However, the newly-prepared report indicates that was automatic downloads and not computer activity.
Prosecutor William Katz, of the Yuma County Attorney's office, had asked a Yuma police detective to create a report about Internet activity on the computer the day Gill was murdered and gave a copy of it to the defense last week.
The defense, however, argued the report was based on information the prosecution has had for years and a report could have been done sooner. Since the report wasn't made available until after its expert witness had testified, the defense stated it wanted to recall her to examine the findings of the newly-prepared report.
The problem, the defense said, was that its expert witness is extremely busy and would not be able to return to Yuma until sometime next month. If the judge decides to rule against the motion the state said it was ready to rest its case.
The day's proceedings started with the taped deposition of Robin Gotay being played to the court. She testified about the events of the day Gill called her daughter Stephanie Baer to come pick up a check for $24,000 and cash it for him. It was Gotay who told her daughter to contact police, which led to the discovery of Gill's body.
Gotay also testified that she told Adriana Guzman Ozuna, who was Strong's girlfriend at the time, that Gill was interested in going on a date with her. She said while flattered, Ozuna replied that she was seeing someone at the time.
Also on the stand was Scottsdale Realtor Patricia Lowman, who testified she found out that Gill had been murdered about two weeks after it happened, when Gotay told her in a phone conversation. She also testified that Gotay had told her that Gill had been strangled by a computer cord.
Lowman testified that she first met Gill in the summer of 2007 on a blind date, which was arraigned by Dr. Sadir Gotay, who owned Desert Vascular, where Gill had worked.
“He said he wanted me to meet his best friend,” Lowman said. “When I arrived at the restaurant he was waiting out front for me holding a rose. He was very friendly, relaxed and open. I was very comfortable.”
Despite things going well on the date Lowman said she and Gill only developed a friendship and that she only saw him two others times, both of which were in October, the month before he was killed.
The 62-year-old Gill was found dead inside his home at 4596 W. La Quinta Loop on Nov. 2, 2007. He had been suffocated and had blunt-force trauma to his head. A large sum of money was missing.
Strong has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of kidnapping, one count of armed robbery, one count of burglary, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of attempted arson in the murder of Gill.