MINDEN — A world-famous pathologist testified Wednesday the shooting death of Round Hill resident Harry Leibel was an atypical suicide, not murder.
Dr. Bennet Omalu was the last witness for the defense in the murder trial of Tatiana Leibel, who’s accused of shooting her husband in their Lake Tahoe home on Feb. 23, 2014.
Both the defense and prosecution ended their cases on Wednesday. Closing arguments are expected to take place this morning and then the jury will get the case for deliberation.
More than 60 witnesses were listed in the case that started on Jan. 27.
Tatiana Leibel is being held in Douglas County Jail on an open murder charge. A Russian national, the case is being translated for her.
Omalu said he came to his conclusion about Leibel’s death by examining crime scene photos and reports.
Defense attorney Kris Brown lay down on the couch where Leibel was shot and demonstrated how she could get the gun into her side and pull the trigger.
Brown said she was just demonstrating how Leibel could have taken his own life.
Prosecutor Tom Gregory challenged Omalu on his two-page summary of what happened.
He asked if the pathologist, who said he testifies in about 60 trials a year, ever cut and pasted his conclusions. Omalu said there were certain things, like his qualifications, he has a template for.
Gregory said the conclusion in the Leibel case was the same as a previous case, which Omalu said was because sometimes he says the same things.
Gregory asked Omalu if a judge had ever ruled his testimony inadmissible.
Omalu said in a Pennsylvania case eight years ago he had been told by the attorney there were no medical records, and it turned out there were.
“I agreed with the judge’s ruling,” he said.
Omalu is the chief medical examiner for San Joaquin County and an assistant professor at the University of California-Davis, in addition to being an expert witness.
Under cross-examination he told Gregory he was paid $3,000 to testify for the defense.
Omalu has testified on behalf of both prosecutors and defendants during his career, as well as civil trials, and before the U.S. Congress, he testified on Wednesday.
He’s noted for his discovery of brain injuries in football players and wrestlers. He’s being portrayed by actor Will Smith in the upcoming film, “Concussion.”
He said he has conducted 8,000 autopsies and examined 10,000 brains during his career.