On the third day of testimony in the Colleen McKernan murder trial, jurors in a packed courtroom heard from the lead investigator in the case, a firearms instructor, and a neighbor of the McKernans.

CANTON There didn't appear to be any sign of a struggle inside a Massillon residence the night Rob McKernan was shot and killed, a detective testified Thursday.

On the third day of testimony in a standing-room-only courtroom, jurors heard from Massillon police Det. Jason Gohlike, the lead investigator in the case.

He was the next to last of the prosecution witnesses to take the stand before the defense countered with two witnesses: A neighbor who had invited Rob and Colleen McKernan to his house for New Year's Eve 2014, and a firearms instructor.

Colleen McKernan, 28, faces murder and accompanying firearm charge in the shooting death of her husband. She has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she faces 18 years to life. 

A 10-man, two-women jury is hearing the case in Stark County Common Pleas Court before Judge Chryssa Hartnett. This week, they traveled to Massillon to view the shooting scene, and they were shown photos of the residence that night with Rob McKernan laying flat on his back on the floor with his arms out at his sides. They also viewed autopsy photos and X-rays of Rob McKernan showing where 10 bullets entered his body in his head and torso. 

Investigation details

Gohlike took the stand for the prosecution most of the day Thursday. He was asked about Colleen McKernan's demeanor at the police station on the night she was arrested.

"She was tearful like she was about to cry, but no sobbing," Gohlike said.

Jurors were shown a picture Thursday morning of Colleen McKernan taken at the Massillon Police Department. She looked distraught in the photo and had blood around her mouth and on her chin. Her hands also were blood-stained. In her 911 call recording, she can be heard performing CPR on her husband.

Gohlike said he was looking for any indication of a struggle when he was called to the scene Dec. 31, 2014, which is standard during a domestic violence investigation, and he didn't see any signs in the hallway or the bedroom. He was told when he arrived that Colleen McKernan had called 911 and told a dispatcher that Rob McKernan hit her and was coming at her.  

Defense attorney Ian Friedman questioned Gohlike about a gun receipt he had found in a gun case at the McKernans' Oak Trail NE home. Gohlike said the receipt showed Colleen McKernan had purchased the gun used in the shooting about four years before the couple's April 2014 marriage.

Friedman asked about steps Gohlike had taken in his investigation such as obtaining cellphone records, interviewing people, checking the couple's financial status and Facebook pages.  

Gohlike said through his investigation he learned about an argument between the couple that night. Friedman showed a surveillance video from Tucker's Tavern a few hours before the shooting that showed Rob McKernan exchanging money with a friend. Witnesses testified earlier that arguments between the couple that evening stemmed from money and his possible drug use.

Assistant Stark County Melissa Day asked about Rob McKernan's wedding band, which Dr. Frank Miller, who performed the autopsy, had earlier testified was not on McKernan's finger. Gohlike said the wedding band was never found. He said he thought it was odd someone who had been married for a few months wouldn't be wearing a ring.

Friedman suggested the possibility of a struggle before the shooting. He also asked whether Gohlike was aware of any injuries to Colleen McKernan the night of the shooting. He asked whether Gohlike would be able to tell by looking at Colleen McKernan that night whether someone had shaken her, pulled her hair, or covered her face with something. Gohlike said he was unaware of any injuries. 


Before trial, the defense filed a motion that it would argue self-defense and some of Friedman's questions have centered on suggestions that Rob may have lunged at his wife.

Neighbor Michael Sakotas said he hung out weekly with the couple since they had moved into their residence in the spring of 2014. He and the couple each went to different parties earlier New Year's Eve 2014, and the McKernans were invited back to Sakotas' house later that night. Sakotas said he recalled the McKernans coming home because he was familiar with the sound of the exhaust pipe of the Chevy Trailblazer. After hearing the McKernans returning home, he remembered hearing an odd sound which he described as "a rapid knock like someone trying to get into a house." He heard several of the knocking sounds within a few seconds without a pause. 

Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Jennifer Dave asked about whether Sakotas also had heard other sounds that night such as fireworks, which he said he had.

Daniel Clevenger, a firearms instructor, long-time police officer and former drill sergeant, was asked about the semi-automatic pistol used that night. He explained the Glock can fire rapidly and easily. He said it is possible to fire multiple rounds within seconds with that model. He also testified that if someone were to shoot from a moving position, or were to shoot something moving, the shots are much less accurate. 

Hartnett told jurors to return to the courtroom at 8:30 a.m. Friday. Testimony is expected to continue into next week.

Reach Christina McCune at 330-775-1133 or christina.mccune@indeonline.com

On Twitter: @cmccuneINDE