Six of the eight rifle bullets that struck Fred Loftus were potentially fatal, the pathologist who conducted his autopsy testified today.
Dr. Mark Super, a prosecution witness in the trial of murder suspect David Alan Kobak, said only two of the shots would not have killed Loftus — one to his right foot and one to his upper left arm. But two bullets were fired into his chest, two into the back of his neck, one into the middle of his back and one near his left armpit. That shot entered his chest, passing through both lungs and his aorta, the body’s main artery.
Other bullets perforated his lungs, liver, small bowel, spine, abdominal aorta and a second major artery.
As jurors viewed autopsy photos, Super told Deputy District Attorney Whitney Timm the two bullets fired into the back of Loftus’s neck had “short exits,” meaning the skin was supported by something like the floor.
Super was unable to determine how far away the shooter was when he opened fire. But he said it was not at close range, as in just a few inches.
Kobak, 77, confessed to shooting the 59-year-old Loftus during an alcohol-fueled argument on Aug. 25, 201. Kobak’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Casey Russo, has suggested Kobak was in an alcoholic “blackout” and doesn’t remember the incident.
But when questioned about an hour afterward by Eureka Senior Detective Ron Harpham, Kobak seemed pretty clear: “I walked up and he stood up and started giving me some shit and I shot him … I liked that guy.”
Loftus had recently returned from a fishing trip in Alaska and had been staying in Kobak’s one-bedroom Seventh Street apartment for several weeks. Both had been drinking for hours on the day of the shooting.
Kobak told Harpham he was cooking dinner when the argument began. He said Loftus punched him in the face (there was no sign of injury) and then horribly insulted him. He then walked from the kitchen to his bedroom and picked up his fully loaded 9mm Marlin rifle, which he kept behind the bedroom door for protection.
Earlier today, jurors heard testimony from Department of Justice criminalist Dale Cloutier, who examined the rifle used in the killing. Cloutier, under questioning by Russo, said the rifle had minimal recoil and was light enough that someone could fire it with one hand.
“Would you be able to fire, say, eight to 10 shots in a matter of seconds?” Russo asked.
“Yes,” Cloutier said.
Russo has suggested that once Kobak fired a shot, he just kept firing reflexively.
Eureka police Detective Amber Cosetti, also testifying this morning, said she collected the clothes Kobak wore that night. Cosetti saw what appeared to be blood stains on Kobak’s shirt, sweatpants and one of his shoes.
Jurors also watched a video today of paramedics trying desperately to shock and restart Loftus’s heart as he lay on the floor. He was shirtless, barefoot and wearing blue flannel pajama bottoms.
Prosecutor Timm has only one more witness to call, but the witness can’t be in Eureka until next week. Judge Gregory Elvine-Kreis told jurors the defense will start presenting its case out of order this afternoon.
Kobak is expected to testify in his own defense.
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