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Retired police detectives take stand in trial for murdered Austin choir teacher

Austin detectives who played an integral part in the investigation took the stand Monday.

AUSTIN — In day six of the trial for a man accused of fatally stabbing an Austin choir teacher in 2014, Austin detectives who played an integral part in the investigation took the stand.

Shawn Gant-Benalcazar is accused of breaking into Kathy Blair's home in 2014. In a video shown to the jury in the trial April 6, Gant-Benalcazar allegedly said that he stabbed her in the neck when she lunged at him. He said he "didn't even want to do it," and was "trying to get the jewelry without doing it," according to the video shown. His defense team said the confession recorded in 2015 was coerced.

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On April 9, two retired Austin police detectives who investigated the case took the stand.

They talked about evidence, one piece being heat-sensing video that a neighbor of Blair's had recorded the night of the murder. In the video, a gray Toyota Camry can be seen. Detectives believe that was the getaway car the night of the murder. Blair's blood was found in the car and Gant-Benalcazar had previously admitted to investigators he was in that car that night.

Retired Austin police Detective Kerry Scanlon said he took the Camry to the street where he believed the neighbor had recorded the original video.

"We drove it around and then we parked it in the same general area where the vehicle parked on the night of the murder and we just did another recording of it," Scanlon said.

The purpose was to see if their video matched the video from the night of the murder. Scanlon said it did, leading detectives to believe that the Camry was the getaway car.

The defense raised several questions April 9, such as the possibility of a false confession and if the detectives believe there was any way Gant-Benalcazar was under the influence of drugs, specifically Valium, when he confessed to the crime. Scanlon said no.

After lunch, the jury heard from a woman who wants to remain anonymous. She said her home was broken into around the same time as Blair's murder. She said she got back from a weekend trip and saw a broken window. Her jewelry chest and lingerie was gone. Investigators said they found two fingerprints on her window that matched Gant-Benalcazar.

After that testimony, the state rested.

Follow reporter Erin Jones for updates from the courtroom:

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