On Friday, an autopsy surgeon testified that allegedly during a fight with the defendant's brother, Paul Prestridge, 29, of Magalia suffered stab wounds to the back, leg and chest — the latter thrust done with enough force to puncture all the way through his heart.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Thomas Resk said the wounds were "consistent" with having been made by a steak knife, which at least three witnesses claimed Pacheco, 39, of Auburn had grabbed that night from the kitchen in his brother's home.
Pacheco's attorney, Robert Marshall, has argued that whatever his client did, he was lawfully justified in protecting the life of his brother, Rick Pacheco.
Witnesses at a barbecue in the brother's home on Sept. 3, 2006, have testified that Prestridge, who like Darrin Pacheco had served time in prison, punched the defendant's brother several times in the face, after accusing him of being a "chomo-lover."
A former prison official called by the defense attorney told the jury on Friday that is inmate-talk for someone who befriends a child molester.
Outside of the jury's presence, Marshall asserted that by that statement Prestridge had, in effect, "marked (the brother) for death."
But because there was no evidence what was in the defendant's mind, or even whether he knew what the term "chomo" meant, deputy district attorney Kurt Worley objected to the defense using the phrase to try to "create a defense" to the fatal stabbing.
Butte County Superior Court Judge Gerald Hermansen agreed with the prosecutor, and would only permit the prison expert to testify that child molesters are reviled by inmates and must be placed into protective custody to prevent being attacked.
The Magalia homicide case is expected to go to the jury later this week.
The prosecution rested Friday, after calling Resk, who conducted the autopsy on the slain man.
The county pathologist said the fatal attack could have occurred as testified earlier by the brother's girlfriend, Amanda Baum.
She told the jury her boyfriend had the other man in a headlock on the floor, and heard Prestridge say, "I'm done, I'm going home" when the defendant made what appeared to be "punching motions" toward Prestridge.
Moments later, she claims she saw a steak knife on the floor near the combatants and placed it on a table.
Although a fingerprint expert was unable to obtain any usable prints from the steak knife, he testified to finding the defendant's bloody left thumbprint on a larger butcher knife, also recovered from the scene.
Baum alleges that Darrin Pacheco had the larger knife in his hand when he tried to return to the fight moments later, but that she managed to take it away from him.
The stab wound to the heart caused extensive internal bleeding, resulting in Prestridge's rapid death, Resk told the jury Friday.
He testified that the slain man also suffered numerous scrapes and bruises to his head and body, and what appeared to be a shallow cut to the back of one hand.
The prosecutor asked whether someone stabbed through the heart could have stood up, punched Rick Pacheco once more in the face and walked several feet toward the front door before finally collapsing, as witnesses have testified.
Resk agreed that while that might not be possible for some people, for a man of Prestridge's age and strength, it was "not unlikely."
The defense attorney got the pathologist to concede that because he couldn't determine the precise angle of the fatal attack, he couldn't rule out the possibility of the stab wounds being inflicted by the defendant's brother with his free hand, while he had Prestridge in a headlock.
Although the prosecution had the defendant's brother under subpoena, Worley chose not to call him as a witness during his case.
Last week, Pacheco's attorney had the judge direct the brother to be in court today, as a potential witness for the defense.