By Patsy R. Brumfield
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TUPELO – Travon Brown’s case likely will go to the jury Thursday.
Brown, under oath, told Judge Thomas Gardner he had decided not to testify in his defense, by mid-afternoon today.
Judge Thomas Gardner rejected a motion to rule Brown not guilty before the defense put on its case late this morning.
He rejected a defense motion for what’s called “a directed verdict” and the trial proceeded in its third day at the Lee County Justice Center.
Earlier today, the jury heard that lab analysis shows the only DNA found on a weapon from a 2011 death scene belongs to defendant Travon Brown.
Brown, 28, faces life in prison if he is convicted of murder in the Sept. 28, 2011, shooting deaths of Cornelius “Snoop” Harris and Felicia Ruffin at Harris’ 1108 Chapman Drive home in Tupelo.
Brown insists he was acting in self-defense.
Tuesday, a state forensic pathologist, who conducted the autopsies, said their deaths were homicides by gunshot.
Judge Thomas Gardner presides over the trial expected to last all week.
Prosecutors are District Attorney Trent Kelly and assistants John Weddle and Brian Neely. Brown is represented by Tupelo attorneys Adam Pinkard and Shane McLaughlin.
• • •
(Below is a running account of today’s courtroom action. Please excuse the typos and glitches likely as I type rapidly. Some coverage is paraphrased. Time is stamped at intervals so you can see how long proceedings run.)
During the final phase of Wednesday’s courtroom action (which has somehow been lost from my computer), Brown’s defense informed Judge Gardner he would not testify on his own behalf.
Outside the presence of the jury, Gardner questioned Brown to ensure he understood the impact of his decision not to give his version of what happened to the jury. His decision, though, avoid his cross-examination by the state.
For the rest of the afternoon, the judge and attorneys worked on legal instructions for the jury to consider when it returns at 9 a.m. Thursday. Closing arguments will follow and then the jury will get the case.
2:55 P.M. POST (EARLIER ONES FOLLOW)
1:15 P.M. – Judge, jury back in courtroom.
STATE CALLS DR. ERIC LEWIS
LEWIS – Orthopedic hand surgeon. [Cites educational, training background] Tupelo North MS Sports Medicine and Orthopedics. Treated Travon Brown.
(Questions by McLaughlin – injury?) Gunshot wound to the left hand. [Describes injuries, fractures] (Describe fractures?) Multiple particles of bones. Significant. Should have been extremely painful. (Thumb?) Yes. (Lost use of left hand because of injury?) Yes, pretty much useless. About 40 percent function of the hand. Also base of the middle finger. Performed 2 surgeries on Brown.
KELLY TO QUESTION – No questions.
DEFENSE CALLS BRANDON GARRETT
GARRETT – Tupelo PD detective who testified earlier in the trial. (McLaughlin to question – Testified earlier?) Yes. (A few questions. You were lead detective of this case?) Correct. (As part did you get video from convenience store?) Yes. BP Station on West Jackson. (Where Brown told you ..?) Saw video, Saw Brown. Asked store for the video for certain hours. Been in my file ever since. (Do they accurately depict exterior and interior?) They do.
(To show video – …. Do you remember Brown before the events of this case?) Yes, early. (Video ….camera points at parking lot.) Yes. Don’t see time stamp. (Understand close to time of incident buy before?) Asked for 3-4 hours before the crime until way after. (Video shows man in red shirt.) That’s Travon Brown. Blue jeans, red checkered long-sleeve shirt. Heading toward store. (Video?) Shows Brown again leaving store. Same clothes. (See embroidery on jeans?) I did, actually. (Same as ones we have in evidence?) Yes.
(Another video inside the store?) Yes. (Who is at register?) Looks like Travon Brown, wearing same clothes. (Paused it … see collar line?) Yes. (Not wearing white t-shirt under that shirt?) Don’t see anything like that. (Why didn’t test bullet holes?) To me, if they were bullet holes. Trajectory would be different … if take a stick through the wall, would be the same thing. (Check to see if they were anything but bullet holes?) No. (15 round magazine… 3 shots to Harris, 1 shot to Ruffin, 1 shot to Brown?) Yes. (How many bullet holes were there?) Nine casings, four. (Five to people, four to the wall, five in magazine of weapon, 1 in barrel?) Yes. 1:33
(WEDDLE TO QUESTION – Just to be clear… you asked for BP video, didn’t make it?) Correct. (Not present when he was there?) Right. (Question about his shirt. Do you wear t-shirts under your dress shirt?) Yes. (Heard of a V-neck t-shirt?) I have.
MCLAUGHLIN – (On last visit, you recounted thorough catalog of the home?) Yes. (Placed flags at evidence?) Yes. (Did you find a white t-shirt with blood on it that you didn’t catalog?) Not that I’m aware of it. (But his exterior was a red shirt?) Yes. (If you have found white t-shirt, would you have cataloged and put in evidence file?) I would have.
DEFENSE CALLS SEPTAVEYA BEAN (McLaughlin to question)
BEAN – Lives in Jackson, MS. (Relationship with Travon?) I am his fiance’. Plans to marry. (Living Sept. 28, 2011?) We lived on Blair Street. Lived together since April 2011. (Do you remember Sept. 28?) Yes. (When he left?) Yes. (What was he wearing?) Red plaid shirt, denim jeans with embroidered dragon on the back. (White t-shirt under red shirt?) No sir. (Know if he had any other clothing with him?) No sir, he didn’t. (Was he in a rage, upset, what was his demeanor?) Left the house to get something to drink. (Was he upset?) No.
KELLY TO CROSS-EXAMINE
(KELLY – Did he have this gun with him that day?) Yes sir. (Could you see it?) No sir. (In store, he had the Glock on him?) Wherever he went, he took it. Agreement between us – he always took it. I had children in the home, very curious. I didn’t feel comfortable with the gun being in the home. (Does he have concealed carry permit?) OBJECT – SUSTAINED. (What time last did you see him that day?) About 10 or 10:30. (Been in and out?) No he came in from work, took a bath and everything. Wasn’t there the whole night. He left going to the store around bedtime. (Before that?) I don’t remember. (You weren’t with him the whole time?) No sir. (Not after 10:30?) Correct. (Left with loaded handgun?) Our agreement. (Couldn’t see it?) Not sure. (You couldn’t see it on his hip?) I’m not sure. 1:45
No re-direct, defense says.
CALL CHRISTOPHER ROBINSON (PINKARD TO QUESTION)
ROBINSON – Not a doctor. Atlanta, Ga. consultant. [Details education and background – worked for Georgia Bureau of Investigation, then led Atlanta Crime Lab. Now private forensic consultant. more than 100K forensics investigations. Gunshot residue analyst, blood spatter, gunshot wounds. Testified 555 times.]
(Pinkard – Who testified for?) 525 for state. Rest for defense. (Expert for state before opening your business?) Mostly. A few times in private ownership. (Have you ever been declined as an expert?) No. [Notes expert qualifications in forensics in MS] OFFERS HIM AS EXPERT –
Weddle says he wants to ask him some questions.
(Weddle – A few questions on education and qualifications. Chemistry degree?) Yes. (Other professional degrees?) No. Hold certifications, not degrees. On-job experience. That and Connecticutt institute. Training with GBI. (Specialized certification for GSR?) Yes, only one certified in Georgia. (Requirements?) Trained to use various equipment through GBI. (Trained on equipment?) Yes. (Other training?) All done at GBI, numerous courses, certification tests. (Member of any professional organizations for GSR analysis?) On the way of Assn. of Firearm Examiners… in process of re-instating. Let my membership lapse.
(Two other areas of certification – crime scene or reconstruction , and blood spatter. Certified by international association?) No. (Also said expert in gunshot wounds?) Yes. (Training?) One bloc at GBI to do assist with autopsies with gunshot wounds. Numerous research projects. Part of the training. (Ever performed an autopsy?) No. (Forensic pathologist?) No. (You have viewed autopsies?) Correct. (Since you stated wanted to testify about gunshot wounds, have any medical training?) No sir.
WEDDLE – If attempt to tender him in these fields, specifically object to GSR analysis, crime scene reconstruction, certainly not gunshot wound and no evidence of expertise in shooting reconstruction or blood spatter. We object to his testimony as expert. He may be able to comment on evidence because he has the background and on-job training.
PINKARD – He is emminently qualified. This year qualified as expert … in Clay County.
WEDDLE – That’s interesting. Don’t know if it was objected to. May have been by some agreement.
JUDGE – Each court makes its own determinations. Any event, Objection on gunshot wound analysis or evaluation is well-taken. Witness may testify bsased on his experience and training on blood spatter, firearms. Not GSR. He has some experience but I don’t know he is qualified.
(Pinkard to question – Reviewed documents?) All contained within the discovery, photos of crime scene, autopsies. (Are there certain tests that are common to this case you’ve seen performed?) Yes. (Other tests that weren’t performed?) Yes. WEDDLE OBJECT – TO WHAT ATEST MIGHT HAVE DONE, PURE SPECULATION.
(Pinkard – about type of information they might have provided, not result.) Judge overrule.
Robinson – A lot of blood at the scene. Should have been analyzed. Expected to see blood spatter expert review material. Numerous holes throughout structure. They placed flags… improper. Use trajectory rods to fill the holes, then triangulate back … to show the movement through the house. Which way gun was pointing. Also, cartridge cases found. Could have taken the weapon and fired it to show ejection pattern… could determine how the gun was moving.
(Pinkard – as far as blood spatter and trajectory analysis. Would jury have had a better idea where different people were at various times during interactions? OBJECTION – OVERRULED…) ABSOLUTELY. During an altercation with multiple individuals with wounds … blood-letting incidents from their body. Based on angles, you can triangulate how blood struck the surface. Better idea where participants were during altercation. Same on cartridge cases. Ejected same way each time. If you find them throughout, you can determine … better idea of what you’re looking at.
Mr. Harris’ clothes were never tested. He was shot through shoulder. Test would have shown where gun was during the shooting. Weapon could have been fired to show how far it deposits powder. Number of tests not performed in this case.
(Are these tests that you recognize done on regular basis?) Yes sir. (Were they performed?) No sir. (In your review of analysis, did you see signs of a struggle?) The shots are random through the house. Downward angle by door. Shot above picture. Another below couch toward back bedroom. All these indicate they were random… shots are being fired in all different locations and angles. Classic sign of struggle. Other key thing, Brown has a hand wound that appears to have skin pushed back …OBJECTION – GETTING INTO WOUND ANALYSIS… SUSTAINED
Cartridge cases are behind couch, behind TV, under chair … again, the gun is moving rapidly. Remember, this whole thing could have happened in seconds. With struggle … going on over the weapon. (Bullet holes we talked about … seen photos. Does anything indicate it was toward somebody?) No. Why shoot down sharply by door and then another way up above the couch? Again, such a randomness, it indicates struggle.
(More information that could ahve been provided with other tests?) Yes sir. This is the main reason for my job … becAUSE I’m asked to review material. 2:07
WEDDLE TO CROSS-EXAMINA
(WEDDLE – Also asked about trajectory. Said proper way is to insert some rods in bullet holes?) Correct. (Said flags was improper?) For trajectory, OK to mark. (You were asked if these tools were used, could it give jurors a better view of what happened?) Yes. (Did a report on this case?) Yes. (Looking at report … language you use … notice, speaking of blood spatter at crime scene… asks why no expert …) Say could have given better idea of where people were. Think you were trying to pick at words. (Thought about report longer than your testimony? Used “could have.”) Yes. (Let’s look at it … section about possible struggle … you say random pattern of shots. Have you studied that bullet hole?) No sir. (Can you tell by the picture?) Flag stuck in the hole, flag pointing downward. (Using flag isn’t proper for trajectory?) Yes, but as general overview of the hole. Can give indication of angle but not exactly. (You say all these shots appear to be fired randomly?) I would say it’s wording, they appear from the pictures. I was not at the crime scene.
(To be fair, you haven’t been admitted for certain things … other areas in the report use the same language for areas you claim you are an expert in?) Yes. (You took the entire file. Looked at photos, material. You’re sitting here today and telling jury that the detectives didn’t do what they should have?) Yes. (Analyzing pictures, not evidence?) Correct. (Gun in case?) Yes. (Ever asked to look at the gun, no testing on it?) Correct. (Even though haven’t testified about wound information… you talked about how many times people were shot and randomness?) YES. (Going by photos?) Yes, in autopsy report. (Not a forensic pathologist?) I am not.
(You indicated you thought Harris’ clothing should have been tested?) Yes. (Did you ask to do so?) No sir. (Cartridge casings … placing on floor, looked at photos?) Yes. (Asked to study those cases?) No sir. (Aware that projectiles were retrieved from Harris and Ruffin … have you studied, tested, analyzed?) No. (Asked to do so?) No sir. (One thing … ejection pattern analysis… if done at scene, might determine conclusion?) Yes. (I don’t have your qualifications… are there not a lot of variables when firearm ejects an casing?) What? (Pattern weapon ejects a casing?) Yes. (Are there other variables to determine about placement of gun when fired?) No sir, not within a closed environment. Cases all over the places… they were being ejected throughout the house. The weapon is moving. Test should have been performed to help us nail down how events occurred within the home.
(Weddle has gun, to point it toward the floor. If you hold it one way or another… agree that if I take those two shots from the same position but rotating the weapon, it will eject casings differently?) Yes. (Depends on how tightly I’m holding it?) No. If held it in same position for 10 shots, it’s going to place them within a certain area. Why are they random? Have to perform the tests. (Is’t that what this is about? Casing in different locations?) Yes. (You couldn’t determine location of gun by looking a casings on the floor?) We could place the gun for different shots.
(Weddle has the gun … if shoot it away from you. Cartridge to eject toward right?) Yes. (If I point it in opposite direction, will eject to the right?) Yes. (Could they land in the same place on the floor?) Absolutely. Triangulation could give better idea what happened at the scene. (How did three casigs got into Travon Brown’s pocket? Did they eject into it?) No they didn’t. Aware he moved some of them. (Can’t say others weren’t moved?) That’s correct.
(You are looking at photos of shell casings in small room, determining a struggle was there?) Along with other information, I’m looking at whole report. (Can’t a jury do the same thing? Shots fired into the wall, and make the same determination?) Not sure jury has 15 years in field, or tests or what could have been done. (Why does anybody need certification to show casings could be moved or indicate weapon was being moved?) I’m certified to testify in court. (Shells all over floor mean something?) Yes sir. And blood spatter analysis, proper techniques – that’s what I’m here for. (You didn’t do any analysis?) Correct. (You didn’t request any of them?) Yes sir. (Didn’t go to the house?) No sir.
(Isn’t it true … we’ve had experts here… you’re arm-chair quarterbacking those experts?) Not fair to say.
PINKARD TO RE-DIRECT
(Pinkard – Mr. Robinson. You weren’t here for opening statements. Kelly mentioned a jigsaw puzzle to put these pieces together. These tests were not done. Could they have helped the jury put these pieces together?) It’s not one test, it’s not two or three, it’s 6 tests. When I was asked this or that…. why did they do these tests? These are standard – looking at clothing. Nobody decided to look at the blood. Trajectory tests. Others. Someone is on trial. Don’t you want these tests done? OBJECTION – SUSTAINED
(Pinkard – Shows photos on screen. Seen it?) Yes sir. (What is it?) Bullet defect lower to the floor. (Another photo …seen this?) Yes. Defect going into the wall to the left of the doorway at entrance. (Another?) Defect bullet above back bedroom area going up into the ceiling or beam. (One more.) Defect aove the family photo over the couch behind Ms. Ruffin. (You testified … shots were fired repeatedly. Do they show what you believe is a random pattern?) Absolutely. (That random pattern … indicates a struggle?) Yes sir. OBJECITON SUSTAINED. 2:29
JUDGE – RECESS BRIEFLY.
MCLAUGHLIN – Defense will rest today. One more decision to make. I have toxicologist now. Ask to put toxicologist on outside the jury to ask court if I can link that up. Judge – OK.
CALLS SHAN HALES
WEDDLE – KELLY ISN’T BACK YET. JUDGE – HOLD ON A MINUTE.
SHAN HALES – (outside presence of jury) MS Crime Lab in Jackson. I am chief of toxicology. Over 20 years. Chief 7 years. [Lists educational background, training] Tender as expert of forensic toxicology. WEDDLE – Don’t waive objection as to prior testimony.
Judge – OKs expert in toxicology. To better understand, early on, quite a bit of information lacking. This may provide it.
McLAUGHLIN – TO QUESTION
(McLaughlin – hands him exhibits.) These are copies of Crime Lab reports I issued with this case. (Body fluids from Harris Ruffin?) Alcohol and drug screen. (Harris?) Results – alcohol zero percent in blood and vitrious fluids, drugs – urine positive for marijuana, not confirmed, also for cocaine, confirmed in blood with less than 20 nanograms. (Summary – indicates marijuana, absoslutely positive for cocaine?) Yes.
(Can you say how many hours before death he injested cocaine?) Not exactly but it breaks down very rapidly in the blood, it was a matter of hours. (Ipact, intoxicting impact on decedent?) OBJECT – NO QUALIFICATION IN THA FIELD / JUDGE -BELIEVE HE IS QUALIFIED.
HALES – Believe he was under influence of cocaine. Exact extent I can’t say. (What about Ruffin?) Results – alcohol, blood 0.06 percent, also same in vitrious fluid. Drug screen possible presence of marijuana in urine. Presence of cocaine, confirmed less than 20 nanograms in blood. (How long had ingested?) No. But since found parent cocaine, it was a matter of a few hours. (Can you say she was under influence?) Yes, but exact extent I cannot say.
(Ask court to allow the relevancy of that testimony now.) Judge thinking about it.
JUDGE – Based on your exaination. Substances found. Any way to know whether this concentration resulted in any particular act or course of conduct. Can’t say how an individual would behave under that amount of cocaine, not even if another amount. May be other physiological changes. But behavior, no. All right, you may step down. Stay with us. Step outside the courtroom.
MCLAUGHLIN – Cases on point, don’t have them. Generally hold that defendant … is entitled to show evidence at the time of the daths, the decedents were under the influence of drugs. Relevant because as to Harris, there was a struggle for the gun. He was under influence of cocaine. May change the way someone behaves. May make them aggressive, that Harris may have done. We claim he is the aggressor. That he snatched Travon Brown through the door. As to Ruffin, she is seated in position of repose. She didn’t move, so no struggle. This evidence refutes that. Our evidence will show that sruggle was very fast… and in those seconds, her reaction ws slowed by cocaine, alcohol and marijuana. Why didn’t she respond? One explanation … because under these influences. Integral in his theory of self-defense.
WEDDLE – The defense wants to use this information for the very purpose the doctor cannot testify about. He cannot say … it’s in their systems, but he says he could not tell thejury what typeof behavior that under influence would produce. Defense trying to do that. This witness cannot testify to those. We ask he not be allowed into evidence. ALSO, THIS IS AN ATTEMPT to demean the victims in this case. WE believe that’s the purpose. They know they can’t et any expert to say that this induced any tuype of behavior. It prejudices the jury.
MCLAUGHLIN – I don’t think there’s any expert to see tox and say someone acted this way. But you can show fact and let jury make a finding that’s non-sensical. That’s a fact issue. His argument to demean victims … if believes that, he can ask limiting instruction. Relevant to the defendant’s theory of the case. Should be admitted.
JUDGE – When we talked about this earlier, I think I said one problem I had was that I had to … for relevance … assume there was some sort of conduct at least of Cornelius Harris that we would call fighting or struggle. That that was brought about by use of cocaine. I don’t know that. I udnerstand what witness has said. Something took place there. No evidence to demonstrate that. As to the deceased, Ruffin, double-edge proposition. One, made him fighting mad. Made her docile. A little inconsistent. Awfully speculative. From my viewpoint, you undertand probative value as opposed as to the prejudice. If you talk about drugs or alcohol, you’re treading on treacherous ground. Value as evidence is outweighed by the likelihood of prejudice. Therefore, prior ruling will be maintained.
WEDDLE – Because of this ruling, tht tox report came in through Garrett as report from Crime Lab. Ask his exhibit to be stricken. (McLaughlin shaking his head.) That question, only knew it was crime lab report. Ask strike exhibit because it will prejudice jury.
JUDGE – It has not been admitted. Having difficulty recalling testimony about the report.
MCLAUGHLIN – Asked Garrett if he knew Harris was under cocaine, Felicia cocaine and marijuana.
WEDDLE – Not trying to object to it. But my memory is that although testified about one, not about the other.
MCLAUGHLIN – Not right.
JUDGE – Recall the question having to do with … backup… recall your objection to introduction of evidence about presence of cocaine and/or marijuana. I ruled them … may have to look at it again … will accept your rendition of what took place. Hasn’t been introduced. It will remain marked for ID only. All right? So, Anything else? Advise toxicologist he can go back to Jackson.
NOW, WHERE ARE WE?
MCLAUGHLIN – Can we approach? (Attorneys at bench.) 2:55
• • •
11:45 A.M. (EARLIER POST BELOW THIS ONE)
10:50 A.M. – Judge returns. Reminds audience about not getting up and going in/out of courtroom. Judge – Talks to attorneys about sending jury from the room. Assuming your motion isn’t allowed. Are you ready to proceed? McLaughlin- yes.
MCLAUGHLIN – Inquiry, motion for directed verdict. Argument – state has failed to prove the elements beyond a reasonable doubt. No way to find for “deliberate design” murder. Especially about female victim. Only evidence supports defense theory. For all those reasons … we move for directed verdict.
WEDDLE – We disagree. In light most favorable to state, if look at horrendous evidence, eye witness evidence, certainly this case supports it. Over two days. Ask to deny motion.
JUDGE – MOTION WILL BE DENIED. 10:54. Tells Weddle to announce that state rests. Bring jury back.
WEDDLE – State rests. (Judge tells them, this indicates they will offer no further proof in their case in chief.
PINKARD – DEFENSE CALLS DETECTIVE MCKINNEY
MCKINNEY – (Pinkard to question.) Daniel McKinney. Tupelo Police detective, about 4 years. Total 12 1/2 years at TPD. (Investigated this case?) All called to the scene to assist. My final part was to complete the sketch for the investigation. (What is this?) It’s the sketch … true and correct rendition of [layout of Harris house.]
(Pinkard – puts diagram on overhead screen. Does this accurately reflect scene when you arrived?) Yes. (How went about completing it?) We used triangulation method. [Tells jury how he went about it.] (Asks about measurements?) Harris foot to doorway, from middle of his body to middle of door. (You made those?) Yes with Detective Wade. (Another measure? From Harris’ right foot. Was there anything to indicate bodies had beenmoved from original resting place?) Not that I could see. (Yesterday, witness said saw Harris being shot and falling, then somebody tried to close the door because the feet were in the way. Person kicked feet out of the way to close the door. See anything to show this?) So much blood, I couldn’t tell you. (Agree it would take more than kicking feet out of the way to move his foot 6’ 11” out of center?) I don’t know. (Do you believe any way those feet could have been moved without entire body moving from center of doorway?) I’m not an expert about that.
(You said a lot of blood there.) There was. (Shows him photo. Looking into living room from outside front door.) (I believe it’s Snoop Harris lying there?) Yes. (See both feet?) Yes. (Some smearing … but is there blood leading to his feet?) I see a lot of blood… they could have stepped through the blood. Can’t say if drug or anything. (If you start right here at his foot, do you see any smears?) I don’t. (If foot was in the doorway, would his foot have to be … OBJECT / OVERRULED….. This door, open which way?) I don’t remember but appears to inside. Door looks open.
(If door is open, are his feet, as we see, in the way of its opening or closing?) No. (From photo, do you have an opinion …. is there anything to lead you to believe that his feet were closer to the door after he was shot?) No. (6’ 11” … fair distance?) Yes sir. 11:07
WEDDLE TO CROSS-EXAMINE
(Weddle – Let’s look at this sketch. Measurements accurate?) Yes. (Notice note at bottom with your signature?) Yes. (Says not to scale?) Yes. (Small living room?) Yes. (You took measurements of interior walls too?) Yes. (Fair to say that the sketches of bodies are meant to show general location?) Yes. (Bodies drawn to scale?) Where we measure them. (Not to scale?) No. (Body representation isn’t accurate?) Yes. (Asked about blood on the floor… you were told about feet in the doorway, if they were dragged through blood?) Yes. (When did you arrive? When you were called?) Right. (Do you know when this blood on floor of entranceway got there?) I don’t. Can’t say when. (Know body was moved?) No. Didn’t see anybody move a body. (Don’t know whose blood that is?) I sure don’t.
(Asked about somebody moving some feet … what is somebody said door was closed after… do you know what happened then?) I don’t.
PINKARD TO RE-DIRECT
(Pinkard – 6’ 11” in a room? Still a distance between right foot and doorway?) Yes. 11:12
DEFENSE CALLS STEVEN WADE
Wade – Tupelo Police detective, 7 years. Called to 1108 Chapman Dr. Interviewed a witness, too statement. (Remember Dexter Babbitt?) Yes. (Talk to him and take statement?) Yes. (Time… about 1 a.m. on 29th?) Don’t recall the time. (Show you statement … taken?) 12:55 p.m. Sept. 28. Personally talked to Babbitt. He talked, Wade wrote it down. (Take down everything?) I wrote wht he saw. (Leave out everything?) Everything he told me, I wrote down. (Looking at document … Babbitt sez saw someone trying to run out the door. ) He said. (Said “someone?”) Yes (If he had said Harris would you have written that?) I sure would have. (He said “he” had a white t-shirt one. I took it to be the assailant who snatched the person inside?) That’s correct. (He told you that?) Well, statement sez that. Person who shot him … he’s talking about person he saw. (Did he ever say both people had on white t-shirts?) No. (If he had would you write it down?) Yes.
(At scene, ever see Travon Brown?) No. (Don’t know wht he had on?) No. (Memory of whether Babbitt tell you he saw Harris fall down after he saw him shot?) I wrote down exactly wht he told me. (Then, he didn’t say he saw someone … have to kick Harris’ foot out of the way to close the door?) No sir. (Wouldn’t you have written it down?) Yes. (Thought it was important?) Everything witness says is important. (Aren’t you trained to pay attention to detail?) My aim to take account down as they give it to me.
(Exhibit 46 … seem this? It’s sketch.) Yes. Helped McKinney make measurements. (Are they accurate?) Says it’s not to scale. (But the measurements are correct?) Yes sir. I can’t testify say they are exact, but I helped McKinney do them. (This 6’ 11”… from opening of door to Harris’ foot?) Yes. (You were in the house?) Yes. (If Harris’ foot was that far from door, could you open or close it?) I would say no. (Any indication body was kicked or moved?) No. (Babbitt’s statement…. about white t-shirt. Doesn’t say anything else happens after window is covered up. Did he say anything aobut what happened next?) No. (Did he say after some time… minutes… he heard a last gunshot?) I wrote exactly what he said. (If he told you that day the window was covered and time elapsed for shot, would you have written that down?) I would have.
(He didn’t ell you that he heard someone trying to escape out back door?) No. (If he had, you would have written it down?) I would have. (Did you know about door?) I don’t know.
KELLY TO CROSS-EXAMINE
(Kelly – where took statement?) in driveway across street. Had clipboard with me an drafted statement. Interviewed two others that night. (Were other statements about same length?) Yes. (When you write it, did you put quotations around any of it?) No. (Are these direct quotes of what Babbitt said?) All that would be. (Exactly as what he said?) Yes. (Not a chance of something else?) No changes. (You understand difference between a summary and direct quotation?) This is direct. Nothing else. (Have you seen Babbitt’s second statement?) No I haven’t.
(Is it possible you don’t know who “someone” is and later…. OBJECT SPECULATION / SUSTAINED…. (Review this statement … is it inconsistent or does it add more detail?) That’s pretty consistent. (Does it say something different, just details?) Correct. (You have education and have written papers… do you have limits sometimes?) Yes. (What is the purpose of this statement?) Well, from there, to get a brief knowledge of what the person saw or heard for immediate document to start investigation. (A lot of things you find out?) Yes. (Is it common late at night, identify people to get statements … common to get more detailed statements?) Sure, it is. (You did officer reports in city court. Is everything usually there?) No sir. 11:28
MCLAUGHLIN TO RE-DIRECT
(McLaughlin – Telling DA statement is precisely what Babbitt said?) Yes. (When he said “someone” that’s because he told you that?) That’s right. (Asked about two statements. Generally consistent?) Yes. (Things in second statement not in first statement, right?) Such as? (The “someone” becomes Harris?) Yes. (No mention of white t-shirt in second?) No. (Claims to see Cornelius on ground after shot, not in first?) Right. KELLY – OBJECT/ SUSTAINED.
(In second statement, apepars several minutes elapsed for third gunshot?) Yes. (Multiple inconsistencies?) More clarifications. (Would it be true … sees Cornelius on the floor and later hears one shot. That’s not clarification? Not in first statement?) Right. (Many differences?) Yes. (In his stories?) Story is pretty inconsistent. (But in one he doesn’t see him on floor, other he does?) Yes, different. [Cites several differences. Wade agrees.] 11:31
DEFENSE CALLS LINDA BEICHLER
BEICHLER – Lee Sheriff’s Dept., officer. (Pinkard question – Are you a notary public?) Yes. (Sometimes notarize documents?) Yes. (Tell jury .. what notary does?) Witness person’s signature on a document. (Show you a statement in evidence … on overheard … recognize it?) No sir. (See page 2… did you notarize it?) Yes sir. (When you did, was it signed in your presence?) Yes. Talbis Reagan. He come to me and asked me to notarize it for him. I did. ( Anyone else there?) If there was, another officer but don’t remember who it was. (Do you remember that he said wanted notary, was anyone else there?) No sir. (Did he ever give you the impression it was anything other than free will?) OBJECTION – HE’S LEADING AND SPECULATION. JUDGE – ANSWER QUESTION.
(Did he ever give you impression he was signing for any reaso other than free will?) No sir. (At any point after, did he say he ws coerced, threatened?) No. (Impression that was the case?) No sir. (If you did, would you have notarized it?) I would ask jail administrator about it before I did. 11:36
KELLY TO CROSS EXAMINE
(Kelly – You notarized this?) Yes. (He said he signed it, true?) Yes. (You don’t know anything about it, do you?) No. (You verify that Talbis Reagan signed there on Aug. 20, 2013? Right?) Yes (Month and a half ago?) Yes. (Almost two years after this occurred?) Yes. (Pinkard asked you about if Reagan was under duress? Are you aware he was on suicide watch after this?) I know he was on watch but can’t tell you exact date. (Suicide watch puts you in solitary?) Yes sir.
(PINKARD – Kelly asked you aware about Reagan’s request for suicide watch. Do you know why?) I don’t know why. 11:39.
DEFENSE …. MAY WE APPROACH? JUDGE – Recess for lunch. Back at 1:15 p.m.
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8:59 A.M. – Judge enters courtroom. He asks both sides if they have issues (No.) Jury returns. Defendant wearing blue striped shirt with dark bow tie and trousers.
MCLAUGHLIN – (To continue cross-examination of Dexter Babbitt, first cousin to deceased Harris. Tuesday, Babbitt testified that he heard shots at Harris’ house and saw Brown snatch his cousin back into the house and shoot him.)
(Asking about your second statement. First you signed Sept. 29, 2011, shortly after you saw what you saw. In second statement … signed on Sept. 28, 2012?) Yes. (Almost year later?) Yes. (Generally, the events were fresher in first than second?) They were not. (I think we agreed first statement was fresher than a year later?) That’s correct. (Did you give second statement to the same detective as first statement?) Wade was only one. (Some other take second?) No sir. (Who took second statement?) Officers came and gave me statement, one came back later and took second statement. (A year later?) Yes. (Who was that?) I don’t remember. (Wasn’t Wade?) I don’t know. Somebody different.
(Questions about some differences. Isn’t it fair to say … you told me yesterday… you said saw “someone” trying to run out the door. You meant Cornelius?) Yeh, that was Cornelius grabbed. It was Cornelius. At that moment, didn’t put name. (In second statement you gave the name?) Yes. (First statement you said, “the guy”? was a black man with long hair like an AFro.) Yes. (No physical description in second statement?) I didn’t give it. (More detail in first statement, more detailed?) Yes. (Did Travon have long hair and Afro?) He had long hair, that night. Just like an Afro. Not clean-cut like now. More hair on his head.
(“He” is assailant? Doing snatching?) Yes. (Had a white t-shirt on?) Both had white t-shirt on. (You said “he” had white t-shirt on?) Yes. (Second statement doesn’t mention what anybody is wearing?) Yes sir. (Because first statement is correct?) To me, both would be right. (I am confused about this … what good would it do to tell detective “he” had white t-shirt on when both of them did?) When saw person with that gun, I didn’t know who that was at moment. But when showed to me, saw his face, could identify who that person is. I know Cornelius regardless, why I said had white t-shirt on.
(What importance was it to say assailant had white t-shirt if both had them on?) Because I didn’t know his name. (Second statement goes into what you told jury… after Cornelius was shot … some time after, you hear a final shot ring out?) Yes. (I looked at first statement, did you tell Detective Wade that?) No, I just got the main parts. In my mind then. (You didn’t tell Wade soon after about delay in final shot, but you did say that a year later?) Yes, my mind had to get together. (Now got your mind together?) Yes. (I was troubled by this yesterday … that final shot, some period of time after you saw what you saw… weren’t police there yet?) I was on the phone, saw police coming down the street. I had to get off the phone. (When you heard final gunshot and police lights flashing?) Yes. (Did 40 caliber make a loud sound?) Yes. (Police heard it?) I don’t know, I wasn’t in the car.
(You said yesterday about second statement … heard somebody across the street trying to open that back door. Did you tell any police about that?) No, My mind wasn’t together then. (First time you told that wasin the courtroom?) Yes. (Police there when that happened?) No, not when back door was trying to get open. (On phone with 911 when that happened, were you?) Um, I can’t remember. 9:14
NEELY – Limited to his cross-examination, judge says. (Did you have a stop watch with you that night?) No. (Any doubt about what you saw?) No doubt, sir.
STATE CALLS JEANETTE RAY – (Kelly to question)
Ray – Lived near Chapman Street at time of incident. At 1330. Had lived there … like almost a year. Knew some neighbors. (On that day, remember it?) Yes. (Wht do you remember?) Well, earlier me and my daughter on porch and a man walked by. He was looking at us, kind of walking slow. Saw man coming from grandmother’s. He and the men kind of met up … short conversation. cornelius came out on porch … OBJECTION – HEARSAY. OVERRULED.
(Did he identify the person to you he was talking to?) No, he didn’t tell me his name. (Recognize him today?) Yes. [She points to defendant.] (Shows photo on screen. Do you recognize that?) Yes. (Does that look like the person you talked about on that day?) Yes. That day when I saw him. (So, is there anything else you noticed? Don’t say anything Cornelius told you?) No, haven’t seen him anymore. Just that night.
(What happened that night?) I was on couch, heard a shot. I got up. Train was coming so I didn’t think it was a shot. Looked out the door and saw Dexter standing in driveway. I didn’t see nothing. I lay bak down and heard another shot. Jumped up and opened the door. Asked Dexter what was going on. He said shooting in Felicia’s house. Dexter Babbitt. (How do you know Dexter?) He’s my boyfriend, my child’s daddy. (What did you do?) I came outside and asked him that… he said something going on. I ran back into the house for shoes and wake everybody up in the house. I got my phone. Ran outside and I was panicking like Oh, My God. Door was kind of open at that house. A person slammed the door, looked out the window about 5 seconds where I can look. Me and Dexter looked in, they looked out. Put cloth over the window. (Can you identify that person who hung the cloth over?) By the hair. How it was shaped. I know it wasn’t Cornelius, I know him. (When you looked in door, see anything?) Couldn’t see. Light was on but couldn’t see. Closed the door first, then hung something. Closed the door, looked out the window of the door and then hung something on the door.
(Then?) There was another shot. Before the police arrived. After that shot, the police came from both directions. Don’t remember blue lights or sirens. (Go to the house?) I didn’t. (Anything else?) That’s all. 9:25
MCLAUGHLIN – (To question her) (Don’t mean to embarrass you. Got to ask things. Convicted of a felony?) Yes. (Two of them?) Yes. (In 2012 and 2013? Shoplifting offense?) Yes. (Presents circuit court records to court.) (Know Cornelius?) Yes, very close to Dexter. Says Dexter is her boyfriend. (Early on Sept. 28, 2011 saw Travon?) Not at house, Travon was walking down the street… on Chapman. Person coming past my house. Then came from other direction. (Two men talked?) Couldn’t hear what said. Brief conversation. Nothing out of the ordinary. (About what time Travon and Snoop had converstaion?) Don’t know. (Morning?) It was daylight.
(Any range … of time?) It was daytime, all I know. Sun was shining. (Let’s get to later… what you saw in dark. Saw somebody after gunshots… Travon look out glass window before he put the curtain up?) Yes. (Looking through photos … To show you exhibit. Can you see that?) I can. (Recognize this as Travon?) Can’t see his face. Yep, that’s him. (One you saw look out window that night?) I can’t see his face … Yes. (That’s what he was wearing?) No. He had on white t-shirt. (Let’s be clear on that, you’re sure person you saw had on a white t-shirt?) Yes. (Said door closed and somebody put curtain up?) Yes. (And after curtain went up … later heard one more shot?) Yes. (How long was thatafter curtain went up?) I was on the phone… not right after curtain went up … probably 12-13 seconds. I really don’t know. Wasn’t immediately after curtain went up. Like 5-6 seconds. (Were police coming down the road?) Yes, they were coming. I heard them … like they were coming down the road. I heard them before they got on the road. They were coming when shot was fired.
(You knew Dexter called 911?) Yes. (Police got there fast?) I think so, really don’t know. (Was curtain ever taken down before police arrived?) No. When I came outside, the curtain was down and light was on in the house and when he looked out the window, he put the curtain back up. (Did you see anything else happen to the curtain?) No. 9:34
KELLY – RE-DIRECT
(Kelly – Person who hung the curtain, what color shirt?) They had a on a t-shirt, white. (Cornelius?) No, I know him. (Recognize the person in court today that did it?) Yes. 9:35.
STATE CALLS JACOB BURCHFIELD
BURCHFIELD – Works at MS Crime Lab. Over 7 years. Trace evidence section, includes analysis of gunshot residue, hair, chemicals. [Cites training and education]
(What is GSR?) Gunshot residue, from discharge of a weapon. When bullet fires, pressure inside weapon forces things out – gas …. (That’s OK. We’ll go into that. Procedures for testing for GSR?) Recommendations, yes. (Certification of speciality?) Yes… describes process, requirements of skill. Has testified about 20 times. (Certified in trace evidence and gunshot residue?) Yes. (ASK HIM TO BE RECEIVED AS EXPERT)
(Kelly – Shows him exhibit. Recognize it?) Yes, lab report on gunshot residue. (Third page. Is that your signature?) Yes. (You reviewed the report?) Yes. (Report?) Is conducted on Cornelius Harris. Looking for gunshot residue. Reviewed the report. (Enter report into evidence – Def no objection)
(What is gunshot residue?) It’s formed when primer ignites the gunpowder and forms the pressure, pushing lead out of barrell. Forms a plume of gunshot residue. Includes gas and chemicals. (Kelly takes the firearm. Weapon is clear and safe. What openings on this could GSR be discharged from?) Shows where it could escape from gun. (When gases escape … ) Once they heat up, they are in molten state. When hit cooler air, form into solids outside the gun. (When 2 of three particles join – ?) Positive particle is round and has 3 elements. Indicative particle which can be round but only have two particles, or has all 3 elements but is not round. Lead, barium and antimony are 3 particles.
(In that report … how get GSR on you?) You’re in the environment of gun discharge. Holding it or in proximity to it. (2 or 3 feet away?) It you’re outside there, not likely to have GSR. (Kelly holds gun … if discharge it here, close to you, likely you will get GSR?) Yes. (Kelly back up about 8 feet, what about here? For me?) Likely. (Can you tell me which hand a gun is fired from?) No. (Could only say I was in close proximity to a discharged firearm?) Yes. (Most gases come out?) Of muzzle and breech.
(Is it possible for you to fire a firearm and not have GSR on you?) Possible. GSR are metal particles that sit on top of skin. You could remove by washing your hands, very easy. (If recently fired, could I have it on my hands now?) Yes. Could still have it on you. (If I rub it or touch it anywhere, does it transfer?) Yes. (If I have GSR on my hands and we shake hands, can I transfer it to you?) Yes.
(Report, what does it say about Harris?) On right palm of Harris. Back of right hand. Right palm. None on back of left hand or left palm. Can’t say if Harris fired it. Was in the environment of the discharged gun. (If nine rounds discharged, more GSR on you?) More rounds, more likely GSR to be present. (Victims shot at very close range … inside of 2 feet … would it be likely they would have GSR without touching gun?) That’s true. 9:54.
PINKARD TO QUESTION ON CROSS-EXAMINATION
(Pinkard – Holds weapon. If I grip it this way, where would you anticipate I’d have GSR?) On back of both hands, probably on palm within that 2-3 feet. (Say my left hand wasn’t in that 2-3 feet?) Possibly back of right hand and palm. (Holds it differently, by muzzle… where GSR?) Back of right hand and palm. (If left hand not in 2-3 feet?) On left hand, outside range, wouldn’t be on there. (True of multiple rounds?) Yes. If not anywhere near that plume, would not expect to see it.
(Sounds like to me … no … positively identified GSR on right palm of Harris?) Yes. (Whether holding gun as it was fired or within 2-3 feet of when it was fired?) Correct. In environment of discharge. (Do you know if Harris right or left handed?) No.
(Perform tests on Travon Brown?) Not that I am aware of. (Any GSR tests done other than what we see on the report?) No sir.
(Kelly – Shows him report, to put on screen … summary?) Reads … GSR shows in environment of discharge of a weapon. (Below are ways to make it more or less likely?) Yes. 9:59.
STATE CALLS KATHRYN ROGERS
ROGERS – (Weddle to question) Forensic DNA analyst. At Alabama lab since 2008. Receive items of evidence … asked to look for potential DNA sources. Usually asked to compare DNA from items to individuals. [Tells her education and training] (Weddle – tenders her as an expert in DNA analysis.)
(Weddle – Everybody has probably heard of DNA evidence. But give us general info about DNA evidence, how to identify it and link it to a particular person.) [Rogers explains about DNA, chromosomes in each cell. Those cells can be left behind in saliva or even shed skin cells. My job to look for those cells and conduct profiles from those cells. Explains how she processes and tests DNA.]
(Now, specifically to report you signed.) Yes, a copy of my report in this case. (Look at items received by your lab. Shows it on screen. Includes Glock 40 caliber pistol.) Yes. (Asks her to look at the gun.) She identifies it as gun her lab received for testing. (Third items … blood-stain cards?) Received from medical examiner after autopsy. Also cotton swab that is sampled inside individual’s mouth, to scrape skin cells from inside the cheek as a reference sample from that individual. (Samples off the weapon?) Yes, I was. Two types of samples. First, some stains appeared to be blood. Tested them. They were human blood. Then taken for tests. Also swabbed contact areas… grip and trigger. Also magazine swabbed. They were sent for testing.
(When got samples, did you compare them … first of all, did you get full profiles?) Yes, Blood samples from gun and contact areas gave full DNA profiles. (Had Harris, Felicia and Brown. What were conclusions about blood on gun?) Samples gave full profile matched Travon Brown. One in 999 trillion. Contact points also matched Travon Brown with same frequency. (Connection made with Harris?) No, I was not. Only comparable profile were single-source male profile. Evidence profiles were all male so didn’t test for Ruffin.
(You said DNA evidence can come from fluids or just handling a gun?) Yes. (Fair to say that more one handles object, the more likely you are to leave skin cells?) Yes. (Less I handle it, the less likely I am to deposit skin cells there?) Correct. 10:18
MCLAUGHLIN TO CROSS-EXAMINE
(McLaughlin – question about report. Curious about blood on a curtain?) Yes I did test. (Floral print curtain?) Don’t believe I had any more information. Description I have was on a piece of paper from TPD. Said floral print from door by front door of the house. (Your report refers to curtain. Blood?) Yes, Travon Brown’s blood on the curtain. (Absolutely his?) Yes. (Look at the list, 9 items to analyze. None samples tested were Harris?) Yes. Every profile in this case matched Travon Brown.
(Say I pick up the gun. Have I necessarily left any skin cells?) Can’t say for certain. Everybody’s different. Quite possible. Wouldn’t surprise me.
WEDDLE TO RE-DIRECT
(Weddle – You testified about … your report … item on the report found near the front door. Tested blood on it?) Correct. (Scenario … someone injured, shot in the hand. That person has blood and tries to pick up an item such as this curtain to place it back. How likely is it that the blood will transfer enough to sample and test?) Doesn’t take much blood to get a DNA profile. If I can see it, I can get a profile. In that scenario, if enough blood for me to see… there was … I will get a profile from that blood. (Skin Cells can transfer to item by touching?) Correct. (Also may not?) Correct. (But more I handle it, more likely to transfer?) Yes. (You said you looked at contacts points, grip and trigger. Got samples off … DNA?) Correct. When I swabbed it … noted that avoided blood. It was profile for Travon Brown. Less than 1 in 999Trillion it was someone else. 10:24
JUDGE – RECESS BREAK. Tells audience, this is a serious matter. Involves death of two person and freedom or not of the defendant. Jury here to listen to evidence, undistracted by your coming and going. Therefore, during this recess, will not permit any more coming and going. Not going to be walking in and out.
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