By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico
CANNON AIR FORCE BASE — Witnesses described Kimberly Novak as outgoing, Edward Novak as friendly albeit absent-minded, and the Novaks as nothing but a happy couple.
Eight witnesses, ranging from first responders to work friends, testified Thursday, the first day for the prosecution to present its case against Edward Novak.
Kimberly Novak died Oct. 28, 2004, in the military housing unit she shared with her husband and infant daughter.
Edward Novak faces life in prison if convicted by a jury of five officers.
Prosecutors set the scene of the October evening. About 6 p.m., the Novaks had gone to the house of Staff Sgt. Paul Shelvik, who had known the couple since he trained with Kimberly Novak at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, and worked with Edward Novak in the aircraft maintenance squadron.
“I wouldn’t classify it as best friends, but friends working toward a better friendship,” Shelvik said.
The Novaks came to borrow Shelvik’s 2001 Pontiac Grand Am, as Edward would often do. Shelvik and ex-wife, Danielle Layden, testified Novak would borrow the spare set of keys, return it with a full tank or leave gas money, and either return the key to them or lock the car with the spare key inside.
The Shelviks went to bed early that night, around 9 p.m., and were woken up by a late phone call from Cannon security requesting they pick up the infant Novak.
First responders from the Cannon Fire Department and the Clovis Fire Department responded to the Novak residence for a call of a female not breathing about 11:15 p.m.
First responders who came in found Edward Novak sobbing outside of the second-floor bathroom, his daughter crying in her room, and Kimberly Novak lying on the bathroom floor, with a television set on the floor and the power cord across her legs, according to testimony.
First responders testified Kimberly Novak was nude, with her hair wet and small marks on her neck. Attempts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful, they said.
When Edward Novak was sent outside, he was placed in the back of a Cannon security vehicle and was driven to the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigation building at about midnight, according to testimony.
Prosecutors pointed out that Novak was never placed under arrest and never asked to leave. During cross-examination, defense lawyers countered Novak was never given the option to leave the security vehicle or even to drive to OSI himself.
Testimony highlights Thursday in the court martial trial of Edward Novak II:
• Staff Sgt. Jay Scott was working with the Cannon Fire Department in Oct. 2004. He responded with other firefighters to the call at the Novak residence on 1479D Mindoro Court. Nobody answered the door, which was unlocked. They came in, they found Edward Novak sitting and sobbing, his infant daughter crying in her room and Kimberly Novak on the bathroom floor. She was moved into the hallway to give personnel more room to perform CPR. The attempts were unsuccessful.
• Cannon Fire Chief Todd Miller said he entered the Novak residence through the back yard. Both the gate to the back yard and the back door were open. He said no treatment was given to Edward Novak, and about a dozen first responders were coming in and out of the house.
• William Baca, a senior paramedic with the Clovis Fire Department, said CFD arrived on the scene at about 11:25 p.m. and took over attempts to resuscitate Kimberly Novak. Baca spoke with Edward Novak, who said his wife had not been feeling well and decided to take a bath. Novak told him when he checked on her 45 minutes later, he found her head in the toilet with a television set on top. Light marks on Kimberly Novak’s neck were consistent with the story, but Baca could not say for sure what caused those marks.
• Staff Sgt. Paul Shelvik often let the Novaks borrow his Grand Am, because Edward Novak’s truck often had “electrical problems.” He was friends equally with them. He went to bed early that evening because he had wisdom teeth pulled early in the day and was groggy from pain medication. Danielle Layden, his wife at the time, said she is a sound sleeper and is only woken by a cellular phone ring or vibration. She drove the couple to the Novak residence to pick up the infant daughter.
Both said the Novaks appeared to be a happy couple, and Kimberly was the more outgoing of the two.
• Shannon Burnett works for Wal-Mart in Amarillo, where he reviews security videos. He gave testimony relevant to a video of the Novaks using a self-checkout line at Clovis’ Wal-Mart that evening.
• Sr. Airman Brandi Stupak worked with medical records at the base and lived next door to the Novaks. She said she saw the Novaks leaving in the 7:30 to 8 p.m. range and did not see them again that evening. She heard banging noises after 9 p.m., like furniture being dragged, and the noises continued at least an hour.
Around midnight, she came outside and saw the first responders. Agents with OSI asked her about the Novaks’ personalities, and she was called at 2 a.m. with a request to pull the family’s medical records. At that time, she was informed Kimberly Novak was deceased.
• Matthew Bailey worked for Cannon security forces. He was on patrol Oct. 28, and placed Edward Novak in the back of his vehicle to remove him from the crime scene. He was later ordered to take Novak to the OSI building. He said Novak asked him if he was in trouble, if his wife was OK, how long Bailey had been stationed at the base and if Bailey liked his job? Bailey said the conversation stood out because the conversation was unusual.
• Staff Sgt. Steven Bretzinger lived a few houses away from the Novaks, but never met them. On the night of Oct. 28, Bretzinger was smoking in his front yard. Edward Novak walked past Bretzinger’s house at approximately 11 p.m. and complimented him on his Halloween decorations. He went to get his mail later and saw Novak outside of his house sobbing hysterically.
— Compiled by Kevin Wilson