Experts testify in murder trial
by David Lazenby
Sep 20, 2011 | 3173 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A forensic scientist testified Monday during the ongoing murder trial of Brian Smelley that the handgun alleged to be the weapon used to murder 63-year-old Richard D. Harris in February 2010 is a black and sliver pistol that had been painted green.

Derek Headley, a firearms expert, was one of two employees with the Alabama Department of Forensic Science who took the stand during a day of technical housecleaning in the state’s case against Smelley, the 40-year-old Cordova man currently on trial for murder, robbery and abuse of a corpse.

The color of the gun was a point of contention Friday when Patsy Morrow was shown a picture of the gun and asked if it matched the one she saw Smelley’s codefendant, David Hollie, show off at the flea market facility off of Highway 69 that he formerly managed.

“It wasn’t green; it was black,” Morrow said from the witness stand Friday afternoon.

Hollie, 33, of Jasper, is expected to face the same charges as Smelley when he is tried at a later date.

During forensic experts’ testimony, several items found at the murder’s primary crime scenes — the butler building where C.J.’s Flea Market was formerly located and a nearby well — were entered as evidence.

Torey Williams, a blood expert from the state’s Department of Forensic Science, testified that traces of blood were detected on the blade and handle of a kitchen knife, a turquoise shirt and a T-shirt found in the well.

She said by comparing the blood found at the crime scenes to a sample taken during an autopsy, lab work confirmed that the blood was that of Harris.

During cross examination, Smelley’s attorney Thomas Carmichael pointed out that none of the genetic evidence matched his client or his codefendant who authorities believe shot Harris dead then offered Smelley about $120 to help him cover up the crime by moving Harris’ automobile and scattering parts of his dismembered corpse.

When asked by Carmichael why blood detected on a pair of black tennis shoes found in the well was not tested to determine whose blood was on them, Williams said it was due to the backlog of investigation requests the department receives.

“We’re submitted so many items,” she said, adding the shoes were preserved in the event they needed to be further examined.

Williams, who offered her assistance at the crime scene, also testified Monday she did not see the items being removed from the well and agreed that hypothetically blood found on one of the items of clothing could have been transferred there from a different object over the course of several weeks.

Also testifying on Monday was Patrick Dozier, whose father made a deal with Hollie to secure space at the building where Dozier could store inventory for his Internet-based book selling business.

Dozier said it did not seem odd when Smelley told him not to use the women’s bathroom, another area where forensic scientists said they found trace amounts of Harris’ blood, because the facility was out of order. He said he does not recall the bathrooms being marked as being for men or women.

The final witness to give testimony Monday was Larry Poteete, a man who in the past sometimes did handy work for Hollie in exchange for being allowed to sell his wares at Hollie’s flea market.

Poteeete said when he arrived one day in February 2010 to find part of the flea market’s interior being painted, he found it “curious” that Hollie had not asked him to do the job.

The trial being heard by Walker County Circuit Judge Doug Farris will resume today at 8 a.m.