Image: Edward Ates
AP
Edward Ates, accused of killing his son-in-law in New Jersey, is arguing that he was unable to commit the crime because he was too fat.
updated 10/29/2009 2:19:25 PM ET 2009-10-29T18:19:25

New Jersey prosecutors tried to portray a Florida man who claims he was too fat to have killed his former son-in-law as a skilled marksman.

Edward Ates, 62, has claimed his physical shape prevented him from accurately shooting Paul Duncsak and making a quick getaway.

Under cross-examination Thursday, Ates admitted he once used his revolver to shoot a snake during a road trip.

While prosecutors made their case, an attorney for Ates claims that in 2006, he had tipped the scales at 285 pounds, and that he was in such bad physical shape that he couldn't have pulled off the shooting or the fast getaway the killer made.

At the time of the killing, Duncsak and Ates' daughter, Stacey, were involved in a bitter custody dispute after their 2005 divorce.

Prosecutors claim Ates drove from Fort Pierce, Fla., to Duncsak's $1.1 million home in Ramsey, about 25 miles northwest of Manhattan, in August 2006 and shot him as he came home from work.

Duncsak was talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone when he entered the house and was shot. After hearing a scream from him, followed by a thud, the woman called 911. Police arrived minutes later, but the killer was gone.

Police quickly suspected Ates and found him 24 hours later at his mother's home in Sibley, La.

According to Lesnevich, the trajectory of the bullets showed that Ates wasn't physically capable of the shooting.

A defense lawyer said the prosecution theory would mean that the killer would have had to run up a set of stairs. He says Ates couldn't have done that and fired a gun accurately. He says exertion would cause his hands to shake.

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