AUSTIN (KXAN) — After finding a trench dug beneath the shed in her backyard, Victoria De La Cruz was so worried she called police, but her panic did not end when they arrived.
“We had to call an ambulance to the house because of her accelerated heart rate and her nerves,” said Austin Police Sgt. Jeff Greenwalt about visiting the home in the weeks after Julie Ann Gonzalez disappeared.
Victoria’s son, George, is now on trial for the murder of his estranged wife Gonzalez, and that trench — along with other items found in the De La Cruz family backyard — are being used as evidence he killed Gonzalez, despite her body having never been found.
Greenwalt testified on Monday a knife was found on a backyard picnic table and ammunition was found inside the shed. A black patch of grass was also found outside the shed, and remnants of a purple shoelace indicated to Greenwalt a fire may have been set to burn clothing. A mound of dirt was found behind the shed, according to Greenwalt.
After Greenwalt left the stand, an AT&T employee testified they received a call about disrupted service at 9:46 a.m. the day Gonzalez disappeared. They were able to identify damaged underground cable in the De La Cruz backyard, possibly caused by someone digging with a shovel. The employee said nobody with AT&T would have been responsible for digging a trench in the backyard shed.Neighbor: De La Cruz startled
For years, Karen Ozment lived across the street from the De La Cruz family and said they seldom came out to talk with the neighborhood. However, a conversation with De La Cruz shortly after Gonzalez’s disappearance was recalled on Monday when she took the stand.
“There was one part of the conversation that appeared to have startled him a little bit,” said Ozment.
Having received a call from Sandra Soto, Gonzalez’s mother, asking she inquire with neighbors about possibly seeing the missing woman, Ozment went to talk with Jesse Corpus. Earlier in the trial, Corpus testified his father had seen Gonzalez’s gold Chevy Impala pull up to the De La Cruz home and mysterious men get out and go to the home before getting back in the car and leaving.
While talking with Corpus, Ozment said De La Cruz came through the door and joined the conversation. Ozment said when Corpus mentioned seeing two Mexican nationals escort Gonzalez to the backyard towards the shed, De La Cruz’s demeanor changed.
“He appeared to kind of collapse on the frame of the door, and his face turned white.”
During the course of the conversation, Ozment said De La Cruz continuously mentioned men on Gonzalez’s Myspace page and tried to imply Gonzalez likely ran away with one of them. He also said Gonzalez kept personal items in the backyard shed and probably went to retrieve them before leaving, according to Ozment.
“It gave the appearance that she was selfish and ungrateful and I expressed that it did not sound like Julie Ann,” said Ozment.
She went on to testify that after an appearance on the Dr. Phil show and increased media attention, she spoke with De La Cruz again about what may have happened to Gonzalez. At that time, she said De La Cruz continued to paint Gonzalez as selfish for leaving.
“I emotionally said ‘Julie Ann did not leave. Something very wrong has happened to her,’” testified Ozment. “He turned his head and said ‘Do you really believe that?’”
Ozment also said she was not aware of De La Cruz using her unsecured Wi-Fi network and confirmed she did not give him permission. Earlier testimony from former APD digital analysis detective Robby Godeaux stated De La Cruz used Ozment’s Wi-Fi even though an internet network was in use at his own home.
“We thought that was just odd that he was connecting to a Wi-Fi source across the street rather than his own within the house,” said Godeaux. Ozment said she was not aware her network was unsecured. The state is trying to provide evidence postings made on Gonzalez’s MySpace page may have actually been posted by De La Cruz.
More digital evidence testimony on Monday revealed five days after Gonzalez disappeared, someone accessed her Myspace account just seven minutes before they accessed De La Cruz’s Myspace account, both from the same IP address. Cell phone records also showed Gonzalez’s cellphone never left the Austin area. Prosecutors are trying to show someone else, possibly De La Cruz, accessed her Myspace page and posted about running away to Colorado as a way of deceiving investigators.
You can follow Chris Sadeghi’s live tweets from the courtroom.