Family and friends take stand on second day of murder trial

LOCKHART, CALDWELL COUNTY, TEXAS – The brother of the victim and friends and a brother-in-law of the suspect took the stand Wednesday morning in the second day of testimony in the murder trial of Robert Fabian, as did Brewster County Sheriff Ronnie Dodson. Fabian is accused of killing 21-year-old Zuzu Verk in October 2016. Despite a massive search, her remains weren’t found until Feb. 3 of the next year. Fabian, who entered a plea of not guilty, was arrested Feb. 4, 2017 and the case was moved to Lockhart in Caldwell County on a change of venue.

During his time on the stand, Verk’s brother Miles testified that he was initially unconcerned about the couple’s relationship, but later changed his attitude.

“I really didn’t see an issue with it at first,” he testified. However, he said she “often came home crying” about Fabian and the first time that happened, “I called him, basically told him to leave her alone. I didn’t want him to see her again. He said something along the lines of, ‘you know where I live’ like a threat.” He also testified that Fabian was “extremely jealous,” and on at least one occasion, that caused his sister to lose a friend. Of his sister’s feelings about the relationship, Miles Verk said she “voiced a lot of opinions” about him. “She knew it wasn’t going to last. She broke up with him a lot but she would get lonely and go back to him.”

When prosecutor Geoff Barr asked if his sister wanted to marry Fabian, he replied, “Hell no, not at all.”

The next witness, Josh Cobos, said he “knew of” Fabian but didn’t really become friends until a couple of years before Verk disappeared.

“I could tell he liked her,” Cobos testified. “I would say sometimes they would get into disagreements when we would go out,” something he said happened more often than not,” though he said he believed Fabian loved her and at one point had purchased a ring he considered to be a “promise ring.”

Cobos also testified about Fabian’s unease when Verk was thinking of transferring from Sul Ross University to Texas A&M. “He was very bothered by it. I would tell him if it’s not meant to be you will find someone else.” Verk’s last known location was Fabian’s apartment on Tuesday, Oct. 11. Cobos testified that in the next few days, daily texts and phone calls with Fabian stopped coming. Cobos, Fabian and others had gone to Odessa the prior weekend on a boy’s weekend out, and when he didn’t hear from Fabian he assumed the couple were together. “I just believed I was giving him his space with Zuzu.”

He said a friend texted him a flyer about a search for Verk on that Friday. “I did think it was odd,” he said on the stand. “I got very confused. I didn’t believe he didn’t text me before. I felt kind of thrown off.”

He also said he let Fabian use his phone to call Chris Estrada, who has pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence in the case and is suspected of having help Fabian hide the body.

James Corrillo, married to Fabian’s sister Jocelyn, appeared to give conflicting testimony about remembering that Fabian had borrowed his truck sometime after he went to sleep that Wednesday and that the next day, he got upset because he had used a quarter of a gallon of gas. Under cross-examination by defense attorney Harold Danford, he admitted that when Fabian had borrowed the truck before he had sometimes refilled it, sometimes not. Danford also confronted him with grand jury testimony that appeared to differ from what he said on the witness stand Wednesday.

Dodson testified about the intensive search for Verk and about interviewing Corillo about Fabian’s borrowing his truck and his (Corillo’s) later borrowing a shop vac to clean up the interior. He said he transferred the shop vac to the Alpine PD, who was handling the investigation, while he concentrated on the search. “We never had a situation like this before, a missing young college female.” He said there were “hundreds of private searchers and that many or more that came form other counties.

we had drones, helicopters, game wardens, deputies. It became this big search.”