COEUR d' ALENE, Idaho - Opening statements began early Wednesday in the trial of Joseph Herrera. Herrera is accused of shooting and killing his then girlfriend 18-year-old Stefanie Comack. It happened Christmas morning 2011 in St. Maries Idaho. Joseph Herrera is on trial facing 2nd degree murder charges.
In opening statements Herrera's defense attorney argued that this is not a murder case rather it's an involuntary manslaughter case at best. He says Herrera admits to shooting Comack but it was an accident and not intentional. His attorney says that during an argument Herrera put what he believed to be an unloaded gun to his own head. When Comack tried to grab it away that's when the gun went off.
During opening statements Wednesday the jury was shown a chest camera video taken by a first responding deputy. In the video you can hear family members screaming "Oh my god, oh my god! Stefanie was shot!" Jim Comack, Stefanie's father, was in the courtroom watching the video when he began yelling profanities. As he stood up several armed deputies had to forcefully escort him out of the courtroom.
Because of the outburst the jury also had to leave the courtroom and the trial had to take a short break. Judge Fred Gibler ruled that Jim Comack could no longer be present in the courtroom during the trial.
The trial was recently moved to Kootenai County. Of a jury pool of about 100 people in St. Maries Idaho the prosecution and the defense could not seat a jury in Benewah County because it was a "high profile"case.