West Jordan » Eugene Christopher Wright's could not have killed businessman and hockey coach Kenneth Dolezsar three years ago because he was home sick with food poisoning, Wright's wife testified Tuesday.
At 7 a.m. on Nov. 15, 2007, while Dolezsar was being gunned down outside a Sandy Village Inn restaurant, Wright was throwing up in the bathroom of his Salt Lake City condominium, Bianca Pearman-Brooks told a 3rd District Court jury.
Later that day, after learning Dolezsar was dead, Wright was angry and frustrated because he had hoped Dolezsar would invest $2 million in Wright's Park City land development, Pearman-Brooks testified.
Defense attorney Ed Brass has suggested the real killer is convicted con man David Novak, who, according to news reports, spent 11 months in a federal prison in the mid-1990s for faking a plane crash in Washington state to collect insurance money.
Brass got reinforcement for his theory from Doleszar's widow, who testified she believes Novak is the man her husband planned to meet the morning he died.
Leslie DeeAnn "Dee" Mower testified she had "a bad feeling" about Novak from the start of their relationship.
Mower said she met Novak after she and her ex-husband Thomas Mower were convicted of income tax evasion in March 2005. Prior to being sentenced in September 2006, the Mowers each paid Novak -- a consultant to white-collar criminals -- $25,000 to keep them out of federal prison, Dee Mower testified.
Novak promised to approach Sen. Orrin Hatch, who could secure them pardons from then-President George W. Bush, Mower said. She called Novak "a rude man" and "a weirdo," and said she was reluctant to deal with him.
The pardon never came, and Mower spent 14 months at a federal prison in California. Before she went to prison, she said she "begged" her husband to have nothing more to do with Novak.
But according to prior testimony, Dolezsar continued working with Novak and paid him an additional $400,000 to get "dirt" on Mower's ex-husband, hoping the information could be used to free Dee Mower.
Mower said when Dolezsar visited her in prison each weekend, he had "juicy tidbits" of information but would never reveal his source. One day, however, Mower said to her husband, "I'm glad Novak is helping you," and Dolezsar did not deny it was true, she said.
The day before Dolezsar was killed, she said, her husband called her at the prison to say he was meeting with "a friend." Mower said, based on the subject of the conversation, she knew her husband was meeting with Novak. It was the last time she spoke with her husband.
After Dolezsar's death, Mower initially told police she knew nothing about who her husband planned to meet. But a month later when confronted with a transcript of that final conversation, she named Novak.
Mower testified Tuesday she simply forgot to mention Novak to police until she saw the transcript.
"My brain didn't click," she testified. "I just didn't remember."
Mower testified Ken Dolezsar had access to $120 million he could spend or invest as he wished. She said was unaware Dolezsar had in April 2007 loaned Novak $1.6 million to make a documentary movie about how to survive a stint in federal prison.
The Mowers, who divorced in 2000, had owned Salem-based Neways Inc., which makes personal care and nutritional products. They sold Neways for $400 million and split the money.
Dee Mower said she met Dolezsar about 20 years ago when he came from Canada to work at Neways. She divorced Thomas Mower and married Dolezsar in June 2003.
An eyewitness to Dolezsar's shooting picked Wright from a photo lineup, and police have linked him to a prepaid cell phone used to set up the fatal meeting. There has been conflicting testimony about whether Wright's voice is the one on a voice message recovered from Dolezsar's cell phone.
Police also have a test-fired shell casing found in Wright's home that was fired from the same 9 mm pistol as shell casings found at the murder scene. The pistol has never been found by police.
Pearman-Brooks testified she assumes she lost the gun during a shooting outing with friends near the Great Salt Lake in August 2007. But a bag containing other guns sat by the front door of the Wright's home for two days before Pearman-Brooks discovered the loss.
Brass has suggested Novak, who was homeowner association president and had access to residents' door keys, stole the weapon and used it to kill Dolezsar. Police have said they do not know Novak's whereabouts.