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Expert tells shooting trial of partial matches of accused’s DNA on gun

Two men accused over a double shooting could “possibly” have left their DNA on a gun said by prosecutors to have been used in the attack.

However, DNA expert Candy Zuleger told the trial of Sanchey Grant and Jahmel Blakeney that the evidence was statistically “very weak”.

Ms Zuleger, of Trinity DNA Solutions in Florida, analysed DNA swabs taken from the grip of a Beretta pistol. The gun was found on Kindley Field Road, St George’s, on the morning of November 14, 2009.

Prosecutors say the weapon was used by Sanchey Grant, 20, to shoot footballer Shaki Minors and his pregnant girlfriend Renee Kuchler late the night before. Mr Grant and his co-accused in the crime, Jahmel Blakeney, 30, were arrested in a jeep that sped through a police roadblock at the junction of St David’s Road and Kindley Field Road around two-and-a-half hours after the shooting. Police witnesses have told the jury of suspicions that a gun was thrown from the vehicle, although the pistol was not discovered until a walker spotted it the following morning.

Ms Zuleger compared DNA swabs from the handle of the pistol to DNA samples taken from the suspects after they were arrested.

She told their trial that she was “able to include Sanchey Grant as a possible contributor” to the DNA found on the handle. However, it was only a partial match. She was also able to identify Jahmel Blakeney as a possible contributor to the DNA on the gun, although this was also just a partial match.

According to Ms Zuleger, there was DNA from at least five individuals on the pistol grip. She named two other people, Skyah Furbert and Kinte Smith, who are not on trial in relation to the shooting, as possible contributors.

In answer to questions from Mr Grant’s lawyer, Jerome Lynch QC, and Mr Blakeney’s lawyer, Charles Richardson, she described the statistics relating to the possible DNA matches as “very low” and “very weak” in comparison to tests she did on other items.

She also tested a baseball cap and navy blue windbreaker jacket seized by police from the jeep after the arrests. According to Mr Lynch, the jacket belongs to Mr Blakeney and the cap is Mr Grant’s. Ms Zuleger said the statistics backing that up are much stronger than in relation to the analysis of the gun.

Questioning Ms Zuleger over her findings, Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves asked if she could tell when or how DNA got onto an item.

She replied that she could not.

The jury heard evidence from gunshot residue expert Keena Zitkovich on Wednesday that gunshot residue was found on a sweatshirt and jeans Mr Grant was wearing when he was arrested and also on the windbreaker jacket found in the jeep, and said yesterday to belong to Mr Blakeney.

Ms Zuleger confirmed, in answer to questions from Mr Richardson, that DNA from another person was also on Mr Blakeney’s jacket, indicating he was not the only person who had worn it.

Ms Zitkovich also told the court during her evidence that it was not possible to tell when or how gunshot residue got on to an item.

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Published November 12, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated November 12, 2011 at 6:34 am)

Expert tells shooting trial of partial matches of accused’s DNA on gun

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