YAKIMA, WA. -- The murder trial of real estate broker Vern Holbrook began Thursday in Yakima with opening statements.
Daniel Blizzard is accused of hiring two people to kill the 78-year-old man. Thursday was a day for both sides to lay out their overall cases. Much of the disagreement came over the credibility of the future witnesses who will give testimony to the jury.
Daniel Blizzard stood before a jury for the first time Thursday in the murder trial of Vern Holbrook. Both sides presented the jury with their opening statements.
"At the end of this whole trial, the state will be asking you to return a verdict of guilty based on all the evidence that we present to you throughout this trial," Prosecutor Elvin Guzman said.
"I can tell you right here, right now," Defense Attorney Pete Mazzone said. "That you will not hear of a single shred of forensic evidence linking this man, or anybody else to that one."
According to police, Blizzard and his former girlfriend Jill Taylor hired Luis Gomez-Mongez and Adriana Mendez to kill Holbrook for 10 thousand dollars after a deal to sell his real estate business to Blizzard went south. Now Taylor and Mendez have taken plea agreements to testify against Blizzard.
"There will be an argument probably made from the defense that these two bought their freedom," Guzman said. "That they bought their sentence. But remember this folks, the state doesn't get to pick and choose witnesses."
"There is not a shred of evidence that can link anyone to this aside from Adriana Mendez' implication of Luis," Mazzone said.
Family members in the audience openly cried as the murder was retold.
"First he punches Holbrook, knocks him to the ground and then he slices him. Cuts his neck, what have you," Mazzone said.
Now, Daniel Blizzard sits before a jury of his peers. After Thursday, witnesses will take the stand.
This high profile and emotional trial is expected to last up to 3 weeks. The defense attorney did say that Daniel Blizzard will take the stand on his behalf.