By Krystal Spring/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
MISSOULA - Jurors listened intently Monday as Havre Police Chief Mike Barthel described the bloody scene investigators found in a field near Harlem after a deadly shootout on May 29, 2003.
Laurence Dean Jackson Jr., 28, of Harlem is charged with one count of deliberate homicide and one count of attempted deliberate homicide in the fatal shooting of Blaine County sheriff's deputy Joshua Rutherford and the wounding of deputy Loren Janis after the two deputies responded to a domestic disturbance complaint.
The prosecution argues that the deputies were shot after Jackson wrestled Rutherford's gun away from him.
The defense has suggested that Rutherford was killed by a bullet fired by Janis that richocheted off Jackson's hip.
Jackson's trial began two weeks ago in Missoula.
Barthel, who led the investigation following the shooting, said one small area of the crime scene really stood out.
"It contained a whole lot of blood," he said Monday.
Barthel described the blood spatter patterns in one 10-by-10-foot section of a 30-section grid at the crime scene.
"The soil itself was saturated. The blood was flowing down in the cracks," he said. "The grass itself was laid over and actually flat in places," indicating someone had laid down there, he added.
Barthel said blood samples from that area, along with several others, totaling 94 samples, were sent to the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula for testing.
Barthel said the 91-hour investigation of the crime scene was thorough, with law enforcement officers instructed to get down on their hands and knees to search about 3,000 square feet of the field off U.S. Highway 2 - an area that had been cordoned off following the shooting.
Evidence was marked with orange flags, then documented, measured and photographed, before being collected, Barthel said.
Barthel said the investigation found that Rutherford's Glock .40-caliber service handgun had been fired seven times, and Janis' gun had 10 rounds missing from two magazines. He said a thorough search of the area turned up just 10 shell casings.
To aid the search for more casings, Barthel said the field's thick brush was burned away from the crime scene.
"After the burn we were immediately able to locate six more shell casings," Barthel told jurors.
Barthel said he personally found the last shell casing weeks later on June 16, 2003, while showing the scene to a state agent.
He said 125 pieces of evidence were collected in the search, including Janis' flashlight and pepper spray canister, Jackson's pants and shirt, and Rutherford's handgun. More than 750 photographs were taken to document the crime scene.
Barthel said that in August, he received a letter from Kay Sweeney of KMS Forensics in Washington, which stated that while inspecting the scene, Sweeney believed he saw bullet holes in a nearby power pole.
Barthel said he revisited the site, took photographs of the pole, had a Billings firm X-ray the pole, then had the power pole removed and sent in for forensic analysis. He said the company that maintains the power poles said the holes were the result of drilling, which is part of maintenance.
Barthel took the stand again this morning for cross-examination.
Two DNA analysts from Bode Technology Group in Virginia testified that the state Crime Lab in September sent them five pieces of evidence from the Jackson case to test. DNA analyst Kimberly Clement told jurors that she analyzed the evidence, and sent back a report of findings to the crime lab on Sept. 30, just two weeks before the trial was set to begin.
The results of the DNA testing were admitted into evidence Monday.
District Judge John McKeon granted a motion by the defense to call a witness out of order today. Defense attorney Ed Sheehy asked McKeon to allow Dr. Barbara Curry, an emergency room physician from Billings, to testify today, even though the prosecution is not yet finished presenting its case. Curry treated Janis in Billings after the shooting.
Blaine County Attorney Yvonne Laird objected, calling the defense's request to call Curry out of order an attempt to disrupt the prosecution's case.
"I think this is an attempt by the defense to do just that - derail the state's case," she said.
Defense attorney Bob Peterson said Laird's claim was "absolutely ridiculous."
Peterson said that as a doctor, Curry is extremely busy and that testifying today would help her follow her work schedule.
McKeon agreed. Curry is expected to testify this afternoon.
Before the trial began, Peterson had requested that Curry be allowed to testify during the second day of the trial. McKeon denied his request.
Jackson's defense team is expected to begin presenting its case sometime this week.