Investigators testify in west Modesto murder case hearing

Investigators testified Monday that Mario Albo’s body was found badly decomposed and wrapped in blankets inside the detached garage of a west Modesto home last year. He had been shot at close range.

Cory Cline and Quinton Lambert have been charged with murder in Albo’s death. The 30-year-old man was found dead July 24, 2013, at the home in the 2300 block of Ridge Road, just south of Paradise Road and west of South Carpenter Road.

A preliminary hearing for Cline and Lambert began Monday afternoon with testimony from Stanislaus County forensic pathologist Sung-Ook Baik. He conducted the autopsy on Albo.

Baik testified that Albo’s body was severely decomposed and that the man appeared to have been dead for at least three to four days. He said decomposition had developed rapidly because of the warm summer weather.

The pathologist determined that Albo died from a gunshot wound to the center of his forehead. He said the bullet traveled downward through the man’s brain and exited through the back of the head. There were no other apparent injuries found on the man’s body.

Baik found gunpowder residue around the entrance wound on the forehead, which indicates the muzzle of the gun was about 3 inches away from Albo’s forehead when the fatal bullet was fired.

During cross-examination, Baik said toxicology had determined that Albo was under the influence of methamphetamine when he was shot to death. He also testified that Albo stood nearly 6 feet tall and weighed 220 pounds, and that he can’t determine in which position he was when he was shot.

Stanislaus County sheriff’s Detective Frank Soria testified that Albo’s body was found inside the cluttered, detached garage. The back of the garage had been converted into a studio apartment.

Soria also testified that he found what appeared to be blood stains in the kitchen, a bedroom and the living room inside the house.

At the time Albo was found, sheriff’s officials said deputies were called to the home after receiving an anonymous tip about a possible body inside.

When deputies arrived, authorities said, they spotted Cline in the area, acting suspiciously. They questioned her and determined that she and Lambert lived in the home. Cline and Lambert were later arrested.

Testimony in the preliminary hearing is expected to continue Tuesday and last three days in Stanislaus Superior Court. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will determine whether there is enough evidence for the defendants to stand trial.

The defendants remain in custody.