A man whose dog was one of the earliest victims of the Serial Shooter killings testified on Tuesday that police ignored many of his tips and leads in the case. Carl Zolnarchik said he was even told at one point to stop e-mailing investigators with the Phoenix and Tolleson police departments because they thought his constant prodding was a nuisance.
"They were ignoring your e-mails, weren't they, Carl?" asked Ken Everett, the defense attorney for Serial Shooter suspect Dale Hausner.
"I believe so," Zolnarchik replied.
The Tolleson man's statements came during the second full day of testimony in the trial of Hausner, a Mesa man accused of killing eight people and numerous animals from May 2005 to August 2006.
When Zolnarchik's dog, Whiskey, was killed on July 19, 2005, investigators had not yet connected the long chain of seemingly random West Valley shootings.
It's not clear whether Zolnarchik's leads could have helped investigators connect the dots or solve the crimes sooner or whether they were relevant to the case at all.
By that time, according to police and prosecutors, Hausner had already killed three people and would kill five others before he was through.
Hausner's attorney pounced on the statements Tuesday, trying to show that investigators in the dog's death were either too lazy or too inept to follow through.
Zolnarchik told jurors he and his wife were at home just before midnight that night when they heard two gunshots and the sound of tires screeching.
By the time they went out to inspect, the vehicle was long gone, but they found that Whiskey had been shot twice.
The couple took their pet to an emergency veterinarian, but the dog did not survive.
In the days after the shooting, Zolnarchik did his own detective work.
Cans of Bud Light beer had recently been thrown in his yard for several days in a row. Were those connected?
A strange man with a dark mustache and baseball cap cruised by the house days after the shooting. What about him?
Time after time, Zolnarchik e-mailed his tips and suggestions to investigators, but they refused to do things like dust the saved beer cans for fingerprints, he said.
Eventually, one of the investigators asked him to end the e-mails, he said.
"I loved her very much," Zolnarchik said of his dog.
So far, prosecutors and witnesses have yet to even mention Hausner's name in connection with the shootings.
Prosecutors appear to be building the case in the order it was investigated, starting at a time when no one even thought the crimes were connected.
However, Hausner himself spoke up briefly in court during a moment of commotion.
The jury was seated. Prosecutors were revved up. The mother of one of the victims had just taken the stand. Then, the lights went out.
The windowless courtroom went pitch black and no one could see anyone else, including Hausner, who was uncuffed and wearing street clothing.
Two guards pulled out their flashlights and shined them in the direction of Hausner, but could not spot him.
In the darkness, Hausner reached out toward one of the lights. "I'm right here," he said.
About 30 seconds later, the lights came back on. Jurors sighed with relief.
Judge Roland Steinle chimed in from the bench: "Kind of thought the county forgot to pay the electric bill."
As of Tuesday afternoon, there was still no word on what caused the outage.