WILKES-BARRE — In the days leading up to his alleged murder, Matthew Gailie confided his fears to a friend: His girlfriend, Jessica Alinsky, wouldn’t let him walk away from their relationship.
“He told me she’d kill him if he ever tried to leave her,” Robert James Cress said.
In the fourth day of Alinsky’s homicide trial, prosecutors continued to mount their case on claims the 32-year-old shot and killed Gailie on Sept. 2, 2011 in their Hazle Township home, then placed the gun in his left hand and a bank statement at his side to make the death look a suicide.
Cress, a nurse and Gailie’s co-worker at State Correctional Institution Frackville, testified Thursday in Luzerne County Court that the 34-year-old corrections officer told him Alinsky would sometimes get “physical toward him,” leaving him with a black and blue mark under his eye on one occasion.
Alinsky would often “fly off the handle” because she feared Gailie was seeing other women, which Cress said was true. The prison guard accepted a proposition of oral sex from a female nurse on two occasions and was afraid Alinsky knew about it, Cress said.
Less than a week later, Gailie was found dead on the living room floor with a gunshot wound to the face.
But despite their friendship and Gailie’s concerns, Cress failed to go to the police with his information until this year, defense attorney Demetrius Fannick argued during cross-examination.
Cress said he made a phone call to state police just after Gailie’s death, telling them Gailie would never commit suicide, but acknowledged he made the call anonymously because his wife asked him not to get involved in other people’s relationships.
It was only within the last two weeks that he decided to come forward, after an email was circulated at the prison asking if anyone had information on Gailie’s death, he said.
Three of Gailie’s other co-workers — Nathan Whitko, Victor Mirarchi, and James Stotler — testified Gailie didn’t appear to be on the brink of suicide or that he had money troubles that were out of the ordinary.
In fact, performance reviews indicated Gailie was “a corrections officer on the rise” and would “become an asset” with more training, said Mirarchi, Gailie’s former supervisor at SCI Frackville.
Whitko, 31, testified that he often heard Gailie getting yelled at over the phone by a “loud” female voice. He also stated Gailie told him Alinsky pointed a gun at him during a fight that summer.
The gun, found in Gailie’s left hand covered in blood, was the focus of much of Thursday’s early testimony.
Forensic pathologist Gary Ross testified that the path of the bullet into Gailie’s upper lip and the placement of the gun in his hand were red flags during his investigation into the cause and manner of death.
Alinsky, who has yet to address the court, sobbed as jurors were shown pictures of Gailie’s body on the autopsy table.
Ross explained that though he initially noted the manner of death as “undetermined,” he believed it to be a homicide from the moment he saw Gailie’s body.
During a suicide, a gun is typically dropped and found in an unusual location, not in the victim’s hand, Ross explained. It was extremely unusual for a gun to be found there and if it was, it was a signal that “something fishy” might be going on, he said.
Additionally, suicides typically occur when the end of the gun barrel is placed against the skin surface itself, not away from the face, Ross said, adding that Gailie was likely shot from a distance of 5 to 7 inches.
Ross’ autopsy revealed the bullet entered Gailie’s upper lip and went from front to back of the head on an upward path, fracturing bones in Gailie’s nasal region and skull before traveling through the brain stem and becoming lodged in the back of the his skull.
He would have died almost instantly, Ross said.
A frontal gunshot wound to the face in a suicide was not only unlikely, it was something Ross hadn’t encountered in 35 years of practice, he said.
“I’ve never seen one or don’t know about one, and if I did see one it would be reportable in medical literature,” Ross said.
The trial is expected to resume Friday at 9 a.m. and will likely last into next week, Judge Tina Polacheck Gartley said.
Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL