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Forensics: Suspect may have had contact with gun

The trial of Ikeem Fogan, a man accused of killing a Newberry woman in 2019, finished its final session of the week with testimony from forensic scientists and a member of the county sheriff’s office.

Nicholas Plumley, a state police forensic scientist in Harrisburg, said his office found “gunshot residue” on Fogan’s hands or back.

“Fogan may have recently handled or discharged a firearm,” Plumley told the jury. “He could have been near a discharged gun.”

Fogan is accused of killing Rhonda McPeak in the Newberry Uni-Mart in August 2019 during a failed robbery. Police found and arrested him around 30 hours after the shooting occurred.

Plumley explained that when a firearm is fired, lead, barium and antimony get heated and combine into particles that are released from the weapon.

The particles can land on nearby objects and people, including the hands of the shooter, Plumley said. The presence of these particles is an indicator someone may have discharged a firearm or been around someone who did, Plumley said.

According to Plumley, police took samples from Fogan’s hand and back and had them lab-tested.

However, video surveillance from the Uni-Mart showed the man who killed McPeak as wearing latex gloves.

Plumley also said it is possible for the particles to be on someone’s hand who touched the gun, especially if the gun has not been cleaned in some time.

Meanwhile, Gordon Calvert, a serologist with the state police’s forensic services, delivered testimony that set the scene for the introduction of DNA evidence during Monday’s session of court.

Calvert said his department took cuttings and swabs from the articles of clothing found in the case to send off to be DNA tested.

“We found over the years the best place to get a sample from is the back collar area, which collects DNA,” Calvert said.

Additionally, the serologists swabbed the inside of each of the two latex gloves found months after the shooting.

After questioning by Chief Public Defender Nicole Springs, who is representing Fogan, Calvert said the team swabbed each glove on the same stick, as well as a bracelet that had been found with the gloves.

Finally, the court heard from Eric Spiegel, a lieutenant with the county’s sheriff’s office who handles concealed carry of firearms applications.

Spiegel first said there has never been a concealed carry license issued to anyone by the name of Ikeem Fogan in Pennsylvania.

With input from his attorney, Fogan decided he would not take the stand to testify during the trial.

County Judge Marc Lovecchio, who is presiding over the trial, explained the jury cannot infer anything from Fogan not testifying.

On Monday, the jury will hear from the remainder of summoned witnesses, including DNA evidence, before both parties make their closing statements around noon. Then, the jury will deliberate through the rest of the day as long as it takes to reach a verdict.

If Fogan is convicted of first or second-degree murder, he will receive at minimum, a life sentence in prison, according to Wade. Wade said those convicted of murder are generally sentenced the same day because a life sentence is mandated by the law.

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