WILKES-BARRE — In a rare coroner’s inquest proceeding in county court, a Luzerne County jury ruled Tuesday that a man’s death was a homicide and implicated his girlfriend in the death.
The six-member jury deliberated for a half an hour late Tuesday before making a ruling that Matthew Ryan Gailie’s Sept. 2, 2011, death was a homicide and that his girlfriend, Jessica Alinski, is responsible.
Gailie died of a single gunshot wound to the face.
“All the jury heard was evidence from one side of the case,” Gary Marchalk, an attorney who represents Alinski said. “I can’t say I’m surprised.”
Alinski, who was present for the entire proceeding, said his client has maintained her innocence from the beginning, and that he and Alinski will deal with what happens next — possible criminal charges — in “due course.”
“Her version (of what happened) is not the same as (we) heard in court,” Marchalk, of Tamaqua, said.
The District Attorney’s Office will make a determination on whether criminal charges will be filed against Alinski. Assistant District Attorney Dan Zola presented the case to the jury. If a decision is made to file charges, she could face first- or third-degree murder, or involuntary or voluntary manslaughter.
Acting Coroner William Lisman said he will change Gailie’s manner of death from undetermined to homicide on Gailie’s death certificate. Lisman presided over the two-day proceeding, during which investigators said Alinski, 29, told different versions of Gailie’s death.
Those versions included a version where Alinski was on the second floor of the couple’s Eagle Rock, home when she heard a pop and went downstairs to find Gailie laying on the floor. Another version put Alinski in the room when Gailie pulled the trigger.
Alinski told the 911 dispatcher the two had an argument, and Gailie shot himself in the head. Alinski also pleaded with the 911 dispatcher to send help, told the dispatcher there are large amounts of blood and that Gailie is not breathing.
Alinski was called to testify Monday, but invoked her Fifth Amendment right, which protects against the possibility of self-incrimination.
“(Alinski) hadn’t heard from (investigators) in two years,” Marchalk said, noting his client was shocked to learn of the inquest hearing. “We’ve only heard one side of the case … and witnesses were not subject to cross examination.”
On Tuesday, forensic pathologist Gary Ross testified he believed Gailie’s death was a homicide based on an autopsy he performed. Ross said nothing about Gailie’s death was consistent with a suicide.
Gailie’s father, Frank, told the inquest his son was a handsome, happy-go-lucky guy, with a great sense of humor. He said his son did not exhibit signs of depression or suicide and that the two had scheduled a golf trip for the week after his son’s death.
Matthew Ryan Gailie enjoyed his job as a state corrections officer, Frank Gailie said, noting he had little interaction with Alinski over the course of her relationship with his son.
Matthew Ryan Gailie’s boss and co-workers also testified Gailie seemed normal that night after work.
A state trooper testified there was a 16-minute difference in the time neighbors heard a gunshot or bang, around 11:30 p.m. and the time Alinski made a 911 call.
A forensic psychiatrist, Richard Fischbein, did a “psychological autopsy” on Matthew Ryan Gailie and determined he did not have high risk factors that would cause him to commit suicide.
Alinski’s mother, sister and step-father also testified Tuesday that Alinski had a rough relationship with Gailie, and that the two often fought.
A forensic scientist talked about about gunshot residue samples taken from Alinski and Gailie, and said that Alinski had more particles on her hands and clothing than Gailie did.