Prosecutors call on NASA to help build case against man charged in SAPD detective’s shooting death

Image analysis expert testifies in Day 7 of Otis McKane’s capital murder trial

Watch: Recap from Day 7 of the Otis McKane trial
Watch: Recap from Day 7 of the Otis McKane trial

SAN ANTONIO – Editor’s note: KSAT is livestreaming the entire trial of Otis McKane here. Get a daily recap like this one sent to your inbox by signing up for the free Open Court newsletter.

An image analyst for NASA testified Tuesday how the same imagery technology and techniques used to investigate the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion in 2003 was applied to look into the execution-style shooting death of a San Antonio police detective.

David Bretz, who has been with NASA for 25 years, testified for the prosecution in Day 7 of the Otis McKane capital murder trial by presenting a Power Point presentation of his imagery findings.

Bretz told the jury how he was asked by the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office to enhance and analyze images that tied McKane to the slaying of SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi in front of Public Safety Headquarters on Nov. 20, 2016.

“They wanted enhancements of his (McKane’s) facial features,” Bretz testified.

Bretz said he was able to sharpen, enlarge and clear up images that showed McKane entering Public Safety Headquarters, his car outside the building at two times that morning. He also showed the jury an image that the expert witness claimed was the defendant holding a pistol behind the detective’s head. While the enhancement of that image showed something similar to a tattoo, Brentz couldn’t say for sure that it matched a tattoo pictured in one of McKane’s photos taken when he was arrested.

“There appears to be something there. It’s just unclear what that is,” he said.

Erica Hernandez reports on Day 7 of the Otis McKane trial
Erica Hernandez reports on Day 7 of the Otis McKane trial

Prosecutors also called two members of the SAPD CSI team to the witness stand.

Officer Mark Machado testified about photographs he took of McKane’s car, including the tire rims the prosecution said the defendant bought at Rent-A-Tire. At least three employees of the automotive tire business have testified they called police when they saw pictures of McKane on TV newscasts while he was being sought.

Another CSI Officer, Scott Coonradt, testified about evidence he gathered from a hotel room where McKane’s wife, a toddler and a man stayed. Surveillance video from a Econo Lodge Hotel on Interstate 35 was used Monday by prosecutors in an effort to show the possible whereabouts of McKane hours after the shooting death of Marconi.

McKane could face the death penalty if he is found guilty.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday. You can watch every moment live on KSAT in this article.

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About the Authors:

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter.