Clear Lake Citizen, 3 Oct 2008

Police testify Thursday in quadruple murder trial

Published: 10.03.08

When police moved in to arrest quadruple murder suspect Christine Paolilla and her husband, Justin Rott, in a San Antonio hotel two years ago, they came across an almost unbelievable scene.

Houston Police Homicide Sgt. Brian Harris said the stench of body odor and rotten food filled the air, “there was blood on the wall, and hundreds and hundreds of needles — both new and used.

“The room of filthy. It appeared they had been injecting heroin,” Harris testified.

Paolilla did not resist when he told her she was under arrest for capital murder, Harris testified Thursday, as the murder trial moved into the third day in the 351st District Court in Houston.

The Clear Lake High graduate is on trial for the July 18, 2003 slayings of three of her former classmates and one victim’s cousin — Tiffany Rowell and Rachael Ann Koloroutis, both 18; Marcus Ray Precella, 19; and Precella’s cousin from Houston, Adelbert Nicholas Sanchez, 21, as they were enjoying a pizza party at the Rowell home in Clear Lake’s Brook Forest subdivision..

The homicide detective explained how he and dozens of other officers had worked on the case, interviewing people all over the Southeastern United States for three years before they finally got a Crime Stoppers tip implicating Paolilla and her then-boyfriend Christopher Snyder, who at one time lived in El Lago and attended Seabrook Intermediate School.

When he learned police were hunting for him, Snyder committed suicide in Greenville, S.C.

After looking into the backgrounds of Snyder and Paolilla, a Brook Forest couple, Craig and Michelle Lackner, who had seen the couple enter the Rowell home next door that afternoon, were shown a photo spread by Harris, who said he talked to each separately.

Both identified photos of the two as the man and woman they had seen entering the Brook Forest home the afternoon of the murders.

Armed with that information, Harris said, they stepped up their investigation, sending detectives first to Crosby, where Snyder sometimes stayed, and to the Louisville, Ky. home of his mother and stepfather, where they found what turned out to be the two guns used in the slayings — one reportedly with Koloroutis’ DNA still on the gun barrel. Snyder was not there, Harris said.

The detective also told of checking phone records and found Paolilla had called the Rowell home just four days before the murders.

“This shows a relationship, not just an acquaintance,” he said. Prosecutor Rob Freyer said in his opening statement that Paolilla and Koloroutis were best friends and that Paolilla even carried Koloroutis’ photo in her wallet.

Thursday’s testimony concluded with a video of Harris interrogating a crying Paolilla in San Antonio, where she appeared frightened of both the situation and Snyder.

Copyright 2013-5 Mark Pritchard, Bernal Heights, San Francisco