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Gunshot particle found on murder suspect

Video of the shooting of Haile Outerbridge and Ricco Furbert showed “dark tones” on the gunman's hands, potentially matching tattoos on a suspect.

Christoph Duerr, 26, from Sandys, and Le-Veck Roberts, 21, from Warwick, have been charged with the premeditated murders of both men, who were shot dead inside Belvin's Variety on January 23, 2013.

Mr Roberts is also charged with attempting to kill Zico Majors on January 16, 2013, in the Khyber Heights area of Warwick; taking a vehicle without consent on the same day; and taking a vehicle without lawful authority on the day of the murders.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Roberts was the gunman in both shootings, while Mr Duerr is accused of storing and supplying the weapon used.

As the trial continued yesterday, the court heard from Jaqueline Pestell, a senior forensic imaging inspector for the UK-based LGC Forensics.

She said she had been tasked with analysing CCTV footage taken from Belvin's on the night of the shooting to ascertain the height of the gunman, who she called “Man X”, and compare him with the main suspect, who she did not know by name.

She said the video footage was “fair” in quality and that while the gunman had been wearing a full-face helmet, his bare hands were exposed when he raised the firearm, allowing her to compare the gunman's hand with pictures of the suspect's hands.

“At one point, Man X tilts his hand towards the camera,” she said. “There appears to be a dark tone on the side of his hand, between the wrist and the little finger.

“On the main suspect, he has a tattoo on that area, so it's possible that dark tone could be that tattoo, but it's not certain.”

Ms Pestell testified that she noticed a second dark tone on the gunman's wrist, and that the main suspect had a tattoo there, as well.

She said the images provided “moderate support” to the contention that the dark tones represented tattoos on the gunman's hand, which in turn added some weight to the suggestion that the main suspect was the gunman.

On the subject of the gunman's height, Ms Pestell told the court that she tried to compare the killer's height with that of another man seen on the video, but noted that the gunman's helmet and posture made an accurate estimation more difficult.

She said the gunman was at least 5 feet, 7.5 inches, but she could not estimate a maximum possible height.

Ms Pestell said she was also asked to look at several motorcycles riding past the store, which she referred to as A, B and C, and a motorcycle which pulled into the parking lot, which she labelled Scooter X.

Looking at Scooter X, she said she compared the vehicle with pictures of several other motor scooters found online.

She stated that the vehicle had some similarities to a Kymco Agility City or a Honda 125 SH, adding: “It could be either, but bear in mind that it could be another bike not on our list.”

Regarding the other motorcycles, Ms Pestell told the court that she had been asked to compare the vehicles with three specific models — a black 2009 Honda Click, a black 2011 Honda Scoopy and an Aprilia Sportcity.

She said Scooter A was moving too quickly to make a proper assessment, while Scooter B shared similarities to a Click or a Sportcity, and Scooter C shared similarities to a Scoopy. Under cross examination by Charles Richardson, Ms Pestell accepted that the “dark tone” on Man X's hand could have been a line of shadow, but said the tone on the wrist could not due to the lighting in the store.

However, she did accept that the mark on the wrist might not be a tattoo, suggesting skin pigmentation or a smudge as other possibilities. She also said the image of a Honda Scoopy used for the motorcycle comparison had been found online, and she could not refute the suggestion that the picture showed a 2003 model rather than a 2011 model.

Gunshot residue (GSR) expert Allison Murtha also took the stand, telling the jury that she peer reviewed a report on several samples collected during the investigation. She explained that when a firearm is discharged, lead, barium and antimony are released in a cloud, fusing together in the high heat into GSR. She explained that true GSR containing all three elements can only be produced by the discharge of a firearm.

Particles containing one or two of the elements are also produced, but such particles can come from other sources.

She said that one sample taken from the back of Mr Roberts's left hand contained one particle of true GSR, while swabs from his right hand and left palm contained a number of single-component particles.

The trial continues.

Belvin's Variety (File photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published March 18, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 18, 2015 at 1:24 am)

Gunshot particle found on murder suspect

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