Defence points to contaminated exhibit bags
Clothing worn by Devon Anglin on the night of 15 February, 2010, had a total of six particles of gunshot residue, Justice Howard Cooke heard last week.
Anglin, 25, was arrested about one hour and 20 minutes after Jeremiah Barnes, 4, was fatally shot while in the back seat of a car driven by his father, Andy Barnes.
Justice Cooke, who is hearing the matter without a jury, received evidence from forensic scientist Dr. Christopher Moynihan. The witness said gunshot residue, referred to as GSR, is produced when ammunition is discharged from a firearm. It consists of microscopic particles which may be deposited on the skin and clothing of the shooter, persons near by, and surfaces within about three metres.
Mr. Moynihan said gunshot residue can also be transferred. Police use small metal stubs with an adhesive surface to pat various surfaces; the stubs are then analysed with a microscope to see if any GSR particles are present. The particles would not be visible to the naked eye.
Clothing attributed to Devon Anglin included a shirt, blue jeans, belt and shoes. Mr. Moynihan said he found a moderate amount of GSR on the clothing: one particle inside the jeans waistband, one particle in the left front pocket, one particle on the front of the jeans; one particle on the belt; one particle on each of the two shoes.
In general, amounts of GSR are categorised as: low, one to three particles; moderate, four to 12 particles; high, 13 to 49 particles; and very high, 50 or more, Mr. Moynihan said. The appropriate approach to consider the GSR on the clothing was the total, he indicated.
Five particles of gunshot residue were recovered from the Honda Accord the Crown says Anglin was in on the night of the shooting. Mr. Moynihan said this showed someone or something contaminated with GSR was in the car at some point. He could not say how it got there, nor could he say whether it came from the shooting of the car Mr. Barnes was in.
It was not possible to link a specific GSR particle to a specific round of ammunition, the expert said.
Questioned by Crown prosecutor Andrew Radcliffe, Mr. Moynihan said the laboratory in which he works takes a series of precautions to make sure there is no contamination of exhibits from the lab. Staff wear gloves and wipe down the outside of packaging so that nothing is transferred from outside in.
A low level of gunshot residue was found on the outside of packages containing the jeans, shirt and GSR testing stubs from the car Anglin allegedly was in on the night of the shooting.
Mr. Moynihan said he “stubbed” the clothing, but the car was stubbed by an officer in Cayman, with those stubs being sent for analysis.
He said all the exhibits were sent to his lab in one box, so it was possible one exhibit bag could have contaminated another.
Defence attorney John Ryder questioned how contamination could have occurred. “Ideally particles should not have been on packaging dispatched from Cayman?” he asked. “True,” Mr. Moynihan replied.
He also agreed with scenarios suggested: that the contamination could have occurred if the exhibit bags were stored in an area where GSR was present; that the bags were used in an area where GSR was present; that the bags could have been contaminated by the person handling them.
Justice Cooke said he was making a note that, in light of the fact that the packaging containing the shirt and jeans or either of them was/were contaminated, the possibility of contamination of clothing before packaging could not be excluded.
In re-examination, Mr. Moynihan said chances of contamination from an armed police officer were less likely if the officer had not fired a gun for weeks or months before contact. Mr. Radcliffe asked about the possibility of contamination by the police officer packaging the clothing: if that officer had not held a gun since 2004 would Mr. Moynihan regard the chances of contamination to be high or low? “Low,” the witness replied.