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Defence in murder trial suggest police contaminated evidence

Armed police may have contaminated evidence in a murder case with gun shot residue [GSR], a defence lawyer suggested today.

The Supreme Court trial of accused man Antonio Myers heard that GSR and his DNA were found on a pair of partially burned jeans and a sock recovered from a bonfire.

The fire was discovered and extinguished by police on the night Kumi Harford was shot dead on St Monica's Road, Pembroke, on December 5, 2009.

GSR comprises of tiny particles that are emitted from a gun when it is fired. They can land on the body and clothing of the shooter, according to GSR expert Alfred [AJ] Schwoeble.

Someone can also get GSR on them if they are near a gun when it is fired, handle a contaminated weapon or touch a surface that has been contaminated by GSR.

According to prosecutors, Mr Myers lit the blaze to get rid of forensic evidence on his clothes linking him to the crime.

Witnesses have told his trial they saw him at the scene of the fire in Middletown on the night of the murder.

Mr Myers' defence lawyer Jerome Lynch QC told the jury there was no dispute that the clothes belonged to the accused man.

However, he suggested they might have been borrowed and worn by someone else, as other DNA besides his was found on them.

DNA expert Candy Zuleger agreed that may have been possible.

This morning, Mr Lynch suggested there may have been GSR on the nozzle of the fire extinguisher used by the armed police who discovered the blaze.

He suggested the extinguisher had been “languishing in the back of an armed response vehicle,” and therefore could have GSR on it from the officers' clothes and weapons.

Mr Schwoeble replied: “I would have to examine the fire extinguisher.”

At this point, Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves interrupted to point out the officers had earlier given evidence that they clean their weapons of gun residue after they use them.

And prosecutor Carrington Mahoney added there was no evidence the armed response officers used their weapons during the bonfire incident.

Mr Myers denies murder and using a firearm to commit murder and the case continues.

Antonio Myers denies murder and using a firearm to commit murder.

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Published March 23, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated March 23, 2011 at 3:19 pm)

Defence in murder trial suggest police contaminated evidence

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