WATERLOO — One bullet delivered too much damage to Otavious Brown’s body for him to survive, a medical examiner testified Thursday during a trial of three men suspected of being involved in his killing.
Dr. Michele Catellier, a forensic pathologist and the associate medical examiner for the state of Iowa, described the autopsy she conducted on Brown’s body just days after he succumbed to a fatal gunshot wound outside 817 Logan Ave. in July 2016.
The bullet entered on the lower right part of Brown’s back, Catellier said, and traveled through a kidney, the renal artery, aorta, liver, heart and lung before exiting through the front of the left side of his chest.
“When any one of these are interrupted, it’s certainly possible — and often the case — that someone would bleed to death internally,” she said.
Photos of Brown’s body were shown to the jury and audience as part of Catellier’s autopsy testimony.
Authorities said Doncorrion Spates, 17, Shavondes Martin, 22, and Armand Rollins, 18, were in a northbound green Chevrolet Tahoe and opened fire on people who were hanging out in front of the Logan Avenue home July 17, 2016. Also injured in the shooting was Dewon Campbell Jr., who was shot in the side and survived. The Tahoe’s driver, Jacques Williamson, has pleaded to lesser charges and testified as part of the state’s case.
The three are charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and intimidation with a weapon.
The day was devoted to testimony about the physical evidence, as Catellier, three criminalists from the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation and a police officer’s crime scene analysis were all presented by witnesses called by Assistant County Attorney James Katcher.
Waterloo Police Officer Eryn Hagemann described finding four cartridge casings, each from a .45-caliber Winchester firearm, on the roadway in front of 817 Logan on the day of the shooting. She also found tire tracks in the grass in front of the home and blood on the front deck, sidewalk and rear driveway of the home as well as on a white T-shirt found laying in the lawn.
She also recovered one bullet from the siding of the home that also was a .45-caliber bullet.
On cross-examination, Rollins’ attorney, Melissa Anderson-Seeber, asked why a gunshot residue test done on her client was never submitted for testing. Hagemann said to her knowledge a gunshot residue kit had never been submitted to the state lab in her four years at the crime lab. A later DCI witness confirmed DCI hadn’t done an in-house gunshot residue kit test since the mid-1990s.
“Is one of the purposes of collecting a gunshot residue test to gauge a reaction?” Katcher asked Hagemann on redirect. She replied it was the main reason.
Another witness — DCI criminalist Dennis Kern — testified about conducting fingerprint tests on various submitted photos. Kern said five different prints were suitable for identification, but only Rollins’ right palm print was identified from a photo taken of the door of the Tahoe, and he admitted on cross it was impossible to tell when Rollins’ palm print was left on the Tahoe.
Another DCI criminalist, Brenda Crosby, testified about conducting DNA analysis on samples submitted by the Waterloo Police Department. She said a swab taken from a Coke bottle positively identified Martin, while a swab of a Hy-Vee soda can identified Williamson.
Retired criminalist Carl Bessmen, who was working at DCI’s crime lab in firearms testing in 2016, testified the four .45-caliber casings were all fired from the same gun, while a Sigbrandt 10-millimeter cartridge case also submitted to him was fired from a different gun. Both guns were likely Glock-manufactured pistols, Bessmen said.
But he admitted he didn’t know whether the .45-caliber bullet found in the siding was fired from the same gun.
“I have no proof to match the bullet to any of the four casings without a gun, and there was no firearm submitted in this case,” Bessmen said.
Trial for the three continues today.