GALLUP — A polygrapher who testified for the defense said in court on Wednesday that John Mayes was truthful when he told police he was invited into Dr. James Nordstrom's house and played pool with him.
But a polygrapher for the prosecution said the defense's expert didn't ask the right questions.
Mayes, 20, is on trial in Gallup. He is charged with first-degree murder and other charges in connection to Nordstrom's death on June 9, 2011. The doctor was bludgeoned to death with a pool cue stick in his Farmington home in the Foothills neighborhood.
The defense finished presenting its case on Wednesday. Mayes did not take stand.
Prosecutors called a polygrapher as a rebuttal witness Wednesday afternoon, and they plan to call a forensic psychologist today before both sides make closing arguments and turn the case over to the jury.
Charles Honts, a psychologist at Idaho's Boise State University, took the stand Wednesday morning for the defense. Honts gave Mayes a polygraph earlier this year.
During the test, Honts asked Mayes four questions relevant to the case:
· Did Nordstrom invite you into his home?
· Did you play pool with Nordstrom?
· Did he slap you on the butt?
· Did you hide in the bedroom waiting to hit Nordstrom?
Mayes answered yes to the first three questions and no to the final one.
Honts said the test showed Mayes was truthful. He said on a number scale to measure truthfulness, Mayes recorded a +29, and it only takes a +6 to be considered truthful.
"If it's truthful, it's truthful, but this one is very clear that it's truthful," Honts said in court.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Brent Capshaw was critical of the questions Honts asked during the test.
"If I were accused of stealing a candy bar from Walmart, what question would you ask me during a polygraph?" he said.
Honts said he would ask about stealing a candy bar from Walmart.
"Then why would you ask (Mayes) if he was playing pool?" Capshaw said.
Peter Pierangeli, a polygrapher in Albuquerque who took the stand as a rebuttal witness for the prosecution, said Honts didn't ask the correct questions.
He said asking Mayes if a sexual assault occurred would have been an appropriate question.
Honts defended his questions and said they provided details about particular facets of the crime. He said he didn't ask the question Pierangeli suggested because it is open to interpretation and his questions sought specific details that required no interpretation on Mayes' part.
John Mayes' parents, Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes and his wife, Carol, attended court on Wednesday.
Rob Mayes told The Daily Times he and his wife would have attended the entire trial in support of their son, but both were witnesses. Witnesses are not allowed to attend a trial until after they have testified. Carol Mayes testified on Tuesday, and Rob Mayes was listed as a witness for both the defense and prosecution, though neither side called on him to testify.
San Juan County's elected law enforcement officials -- District Attorney Rick Tedrow and San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen -- attended court on Wednesday.
Several of Nordstrom's friends and family members have also attended the entire trial.Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.