The trial of a Durham man accused in a 2014 Chapel Hill killing began Monday with motions in Orange County Superior Court.
Bartholomew Romindas Scott, 38, is one of two men charged with first-degree murder in the May 30, 2014, death of Lew Hahn “Ron” Hood, 33, of Durham. Police found Hood’s body in the driveway of a Christopher Road home with a gunshot to the head.
Brandon Shamar Townsend, 24, of Durham, also has been charged. Both men remain in the Orange County Jail.
Superior Court Judge A. Graham Shirley rejected an attempt Monday by Scott’s attorney Kellie Mannette to block two gunshot-residue tests. Mannette argued that David Freehling, a State Bureau of Investigation analyst, did not follow the proper protocols in submitting gunshot-residue evidence for a second test.
Freehling testified that he first analyzed a chemical swab of Scott’s hands. The test was inconclusive, he said, but it is only used to screen out evidence that’s not likely to pass closer examination.
Orange County Assistant District Attorney Lamar Proctor asked the lab to do the second test, Freehling said, and they found gunshot residue on adhesive strips that police had applied to Scott’s hands before they were swabbed.
No residue was found on the hands of Gabriel Riggins, who also was at the shooting, Freehling said, but that’s not unexpected since police collected the evidence four hours after the shooting. The likelihood of finding residue at that point “was slim to none,” because residue can be rubbed off over time, he said.
Freehling did deviate from the normal work flow, Proctor said, but both tests were performed correctly.
Warrants show Riggins told police that Hood was complaining Scott owed him money. A masked man came in and pointed a gun, pulling the trigger, he said, but it jammed. Riggins then ran and hid, escaping through a window after hearing more shots, the warrants state.
Scott called 911 to report shooting someone during a break-in, police have said, and was alone at the house when they arrived. Casings from a 9mm handgun and a shotgun were found at the scene but no weapons. Proctor said the victim’s blood was found on Scott’s clothing.
The jury can hear about the gunshot-residue tests, Shirley said, noting no evidence or witnesses have suggested Scott wasn’t nearby when the weapon was fired.
Both sides agreed not to admit evidence about whether the defendants and witnesses are involved with gangs, but delayed a debate over cell-phone text messages between Scott and Townsend that, according to warrants, included directions to the house and details about where to find a weapon.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday.