Expert witness: Matthew Gailie’s death staged to look like ‘financially related’ suicide

By Joe Dolinsky - | February 3rd, 2016 10:58 am

WILKES-BARRE — A blood-soaked bank statement rested next to the lifeless body of Matthew Gailie.

How it got there was the crux of a report authored by state police forensics expert John Corrigan into the circumstances surrounding Gailie’s death, and the scene itself — one the 17-year police veteran said was “unlike anything I’ve seen before or since.”

Presented Wednesday as the state’s first expert witness, Corrigan testified in Luzerne County Court for nearly four hours on the details of Sept. 2, 2011, and his 13-hour investigation that night into how Gailie ended up dead, with a gunshot wound to the face.

His conclusion: “Jessica Alinsky deliberately manipulated physical evidence in an attempt to make it appear that a financially related suicide had taken place.”

Corrigan went on to state his investigation showed, Alinsky, 32, not only placed the bank statement next to the body of the 34-year-old corrections officer, but also moved his body and planted a gun in his left hand.

Gailie was right-handed, and the position of the gun struck Corrigan as unusual, he said.

“It’s backwards,” he said, as jurors were shown a photograph of the weapon in Gailie’s hand. “There’s no way physically possible for someone to hold that gun.”

Assistant District Attorney Daniel Zola asked Corrigan if he had ever seen a gun rested that way.

“Nothing even remotely close,” Corrigan answered. “The gun had to be placed in that position.”

The same went for the bank statement, as Gailie would have been immediately incapacitated from the gunshot and couldn’t have put it there himself, Corrigan stated.

Corrigan added that at some point in time, Gailie’s body was moved onto the floor from the couch, but the state trooper was unclear on exactly how much time passed in between.

“When he was shot, somebody did not attempt to render aid immediately,” Corrigan said.

A spent shell casing was found in the fold of a blanket near Alinsky’s purse, which had been placed on the living room couch next to numerous stuffed animals and other objects that were “thrown there after the fact,” Corrigan testified.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Demetrius Fannick also touched on the finances of the young couple, presenting Corrigan and the jury photos of a bank statement found in Gailie’s car which showed an overdraft balance of over $400. Alinsky, meanwhile, had $505 in her purse, he said.

In light of over 700 photos taken by Corrigan at the scene, there was not one photograph of the contents of a black box found near Gailie’s body, which defense attorney Demetrius Fannick claimed included financial paperwork.

Asked by Fannick why he also failed to take a single picture or video of Alinsky, Corrigan said a witness would “clam up and not say a word” if someone put a camera in their face following an incident.

“You were afraid to do that because she would have acted differently?” Fannick asked. “How she would respond to seeing a video camera would be a significant reaction for (the jury) to see.”

Prosecutors concluded Wednesday’s testimony with a second expert witness, forensic scientist Elana Somple.

An analysis of the couple’s hands showed neither Alinsky nor Gailie had gunshot residue on them, but that Alinsky had on her traces of 15 gunshot residue components — some combination of lead, antimony or barium — compared to just two found on Gailie, Somple testified.

However, finding GSR particles on a person does not mean they were the one who fired the gun, Somple said.

“Hundreds to thousands of such particles could come from one 9 mm bullet,” she said.

Testimony is scheduled to resume Thursday at 9 a.m.

Jessica Alinsky, shown here before her trial began Monday morning, is accused of shooting her boyfriend, 34-year-old Matthew Gailie, in 2011. Alinsky, shown here before her trial began Monday morning, is accused of shooting her boyfriend, 34-year-old Matthew Gailie, in 2011. Clark Van Orden | Times Leader file photo

By Joe Dolinsky

Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL