Paul Novak's ex-girlfriend, Michelle LaFrance, again took the stand during Friday's shortened day of testimony. Novak is accused of killing his wife, Catherine, in their Narrowsburg home in 2008. He's also accused of burning down their home to cover up the crime. As YNN's Eva McKend reports, in addition to LaFrance, an insurance claim investigator took the stand to answer questions.
MONTICELLO. N.Y. -- Michelle LaFrance took the stand for another day of cross examination, at times pushing back at the defense.
"I’m keeping my faith that the process will prevail, this will get to the right conclusion, whatever that is," said Michael Lane, Catherine Novak's brother.
At least five of Catherine's family and friends sit in the court room every day listening to the cross examination of Michelle LaFrance. While Paul Novak was still officially married to Catherine, LaFrance began a long term relationship with Novak, with the two living together in Long Island.
On Friday, LaFrance said Novak told her when he strangled Catherine, she was struggling for her life.
"Paul was part of our family. They were married for about 11 years. We knew him for quite some time and based on all of this information, we want to kind of make a decision at the end of this as well," said Lane.
Defense attorney Gary Greenwald again tried to raise doubt on how LaFrance says the fire was caused. She says Novak told her he lit the house on fire from the outside, putting a blow torch to the curtain. When asked about Novak's children, LaFrance said after Catherine's death, her relationship with his daughter deteriorated. Catherine's family says their minds are centered on those children.
"They’ve been through a tremendous event in their lives, losing their mother and all of this happening with their father and the biggest thing that they need is support," said Lane.
Linda See, insurance claim examiner for American General Life Companies, also took the stand. District Attorney Jim Farrell established when Catherine originally took out a policy, Novak was the beneficiary. Through See's testimony, jurors learned Catherine took him off her policy and replaced him with her children, but because they were minors and Novak their guardian, he was able to collect more than $250,000.
The Defense established that both Catherine and Paul took out life insurance policies on each other and that Novak was able to collect that money because Catherine's death was officially ruled accidental.
"He advised the case was undetermined as to the cause of the fire and probably always would be," said See, reading insurance documents from 2008.
The defense will continue their cross examination of LaFrance for a fifth day on Monday.