Did homicide victim Thomas A. Schmitt attack alleged shooter William J. Kemp? While multiple eyewitnesses testified he didn't, inconclusive forensic evidence and a knife found near Schmitt's body may cast doubt.
Forensic pathologist Marianne Hamel, who performed Schmitt's autopsy, identified small abrasions and a laceration on the victim's hands. While some injuries had existed long enough to scab over, others were fresh and sustained around the time of death, Hamel said.
"The left hand has a 1/8th-inch laceration ... It could have been caused by an individual who was a laborer, someone who worked with his hands," Hamel testified.
Schmitt, a construction worker, was renovating the 1017 Franklin St. residence where the shooting took place.
"If Mr. Schmitt had hit someone, could that have caused the injury to his hand?" defense counsel William J. Miele asked.
"Yes," Hamel testified.
The defense alleges that Schmitt and friend Michael Updegraff "roughed (Kemp) up" prior to the shooting. Updegraff admits to shoving Kemp but says it's because he wouldn't leave his property - so Schmitt and Updegraff escorted Kemp to his vehicle by his arms, according to testimony. They had released him, turned and walked away when the shooting began.
"I seen (Kemp) reach into his SUV," eyewitness Brenda Dunkleberger, of 1018 Franklin St., testified. "I thought the argument was over and he was going to leave."
That's when Kemp allegedly grabbed his .45-caliber handgun and started shooting.
"At the time Kemp was firing the gun, did you see any weapon in (Updegraff or Schmitt's) hands?" District Attorny Eric Linhardt asked.
"No," Dunkleberger testified.
A knife that Updegraff identified as belonging to Schmitt was found in the yard near where he bled out.
"We were working on the windows earlier that day and perhaps it fell out of (Schmitt's) pocket," Updegraff testified.
If Kemp sustained injuries prior to the shooting, he wasn't bleeding - or wasn't bleeding enough to cause a drip stain - when he reached into his vehicle for his gun, forensic scientist Carol Ritter testified.
"I can't say he had no injuries. I'm just talking about blood-shedding injuries," Ritter said.
Kemp allegedly shot the victim twice at point-blank range - first in the throat and then in the back of the head. Miele asked Hamel if the first shot would have been "immediately incapacitating."
"The decedent would've had consciousness and some control of the extremities ... Even people shot through the heart might have a period of time when they can speak and be mobile," Hamel testified.
Blood drops near Schmitt's body indicate he was in an upright position when he was shot - standing, crawling, falling or bent on his knees, Ritter testified. The shot to his head would have immobilized him immediately and rendered him unconscious, Hamel testified.
Ritter, who used photographs to analyze the crime scene, testified that Schmitt received his blood-shedding injuries in the driveway - several feet from his final resting position in the yard. But Lt. Arnold Duck Jr., who processed the crime scene, testified the bloodstains in the driveway weren't drips but rather footprints leading from Schmitt's pool of blood in the yard.
There was high traffic through the crime scene - police officers, investigators and paramedics - Miele observed. In Duck's report, he wrote that there was a possibility that evidence could have been disturbed due to "pedestrian traffic," according to Miele.
"Do you agree that the more times people come in and out, the more likely evidence might have been moved?" Miele asked.
"Yes," Duck testified.
While some evidence may have been moved, other evidence - such as blood in the driveway - wasn't even collected.
"Is this blood that in hindsight perhaps you should have collected?" Linhardt asked Duck.
"Yes," Duck testified.
The trial will continue today and is expected to end next week.