By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
For Kimberly Novak’s parents, who will travel to New Mexico from their home in Arkansas for the murder trial of her husband, the investigation into their daughter’s death has been a long, slow, excruciating process.
Edward Novak II was charged in March 2006 with the Oct. 28, 2004, slaying of his 20-year-old wife, and with child neglect involving the couple’s daughter following Kimberly Novak’s death. The daughter was younger than 2 at that time.
Novak is a former Cannon Air Force Base airman.
Kimberly Novak’s parents say they’re ready for closure.
“This happened in 2004, and it’s taken the military all this time just to file charges and strengthen the case against (Edward Novak),” said Donald Bollman, Kimberly’s father. “Now he’s finally seeing trial. Now we need to see him found guilty.”
Edward Novak’s defense attorney Maj. Shawn Vandenburg agreed on a need for closure.
“I think it’s safe to say that everybody in this case is ready for this to go forward,” Vandenburg said.
The Bollmans did not return calls to Freedom New Mexico this week, but in a story on Little Rock, Ark., television station KHTV, they said their daughter was a newlywed at the time of her death and was planning to leave Cannon and the Air Force to be a full-time mother. They said she was within her last 120 days of service.
Edward Novak called police the night of his wife’s death and told emergency responders that when he returned to the couple’s base housing unit at Cannon, after being gone 30 to 40 minutes, he found his wife slumped over a toilet with her head inside the bowl and both the lid and seat down on the back of her neck. A television was on top of the lid.
Investigators say Novak died from blunt force trauma to the back of the head and neck.
Edward Novak has been incarcerated, serving a 15-month prison sentence, since he pleaded guilty to child abuse charges last March. He was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force following that sentence.
In testimony at a hearing last March, military officials testified that Novak’s daughter was found alone, in her crib in the military housing unit assigned to her father. She was in unsanitary conditions and malnourished, according to testimony.
In testimony during two separate Article 32 hearings in the case, military prosecutors charged that the couple had experienced financial difficulties and one possible motive for the killing could have been for $300,000 in life insurance Edward Novak might have collected following his wife’s death.
Defense attorneys argued the investigation into the death was botched by investigators, and the evidence was largely circumstantial because Edward Novak was not home when his wife died but had left to return a borrowed car.
During those hearings the defense also raised the possibility that Novak’s death could have been the case of mistaken identity.
They said a witness in an unrelated homicide, which occurred in Clovis, had been threatened to the point that the Air Force put the witness and his military spouse in the Air Force’s Threatened Airman program. Attorneys argued that couple, who lived on the same street as the Novaks, could have been the intended target.
Since Edward Novak was charged, the couple’s daughter has been in the custody of social services. The Bollmans said in the KHTV story that they are seeking to adopt their granddaughter.
Vandenburg refused comment on what the defense strategy in the case would be or whether the mistaken identity angle would be pursued further.
The trial before military jury is expected to take up to three weeks. If convicted, Edward Novak could be sentenced to life in prison.
The trial begins Monday at the Cannon courthouse.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.