Expert gives gunshot residue evidence

Particles consistent with gunshot residue were found on the hands of the man accused of a gun murder, a jury heard yesterday.

Tarah Helsel, an expert from the Pennsylvania-based RJ Lee Group, told the court she found evidence of GSR on swabs taken from Kiari Tucker’s hands.

More particles were found on Mr Tucker’s jeans, his left shoe and a red handkerchief found on his bed.

Mr Tucker, 22, denies that he chased and fatally shot Morlan Steede in the Deepdale area of Pembroke on November 3, 2017.

The court earlier heard police searched Mr Tucker’s home the day after the shooting and found him hidden in a closet in a separate apartment of the same house.

The jury was told yesterday that evidence that several items of clothing were seized from Mr Tucker’s bedroom.

Police also collected the clothes Mr Tucker was wearing when he was arrested and collected swabs from his hands, face and ears to be tested for gunshot residue.

Ms Helsel explained to the court that GSR is a combination of three elements, lead, barium and antimony, fused together and released in a cloud when a firearm is discharged.

She said particles were usually only formed by the discharge of firearms, but they can also be produced by a type of firework and one test has shown the particles can be produced by brake pads.

Ms Helsel added that the particles usually fall off skin within four to six hours with “regular action” but can remain trapped in clothing for longer.

The particles can also be transferred and retransferred between surfaces.

She said she identified one particle consistent with GSR on a swab taken from Mr Tucker’s right palm and another two on a swab from his left palm.

A swab from the front of Mr Tucker’s jeans contained four particles consistent with GSR, and a swab from the back of the pants had another two particles.

A handkerchief found on Mr Tucker’s bed had one particle consistent with GSR, and another two particles were found on his left shoe.

Ms Helsel added she found a series of two-component particles, which contain two of the three components of GSR, on Mr Tucker’s hands, jeans and left shoe.

She added she was not sent any samples from Mr Steede’s clothing, so she could not compare particles that may have been there with those found on Mr Tucker.

She said it would be difficult to make comparisons even if samples were available.

She added: “I would be able to compare, but a lot of primers use lead, barium and antimony so they are going to be pretty similar across the board. I wouldn’t be able to give a common origin.”

Ms Helsel said she had not carried out tests in Hamilton Police Station to check if any GSR was present there.

Ms Helsel said if there was GSR in the environment, or on officers in contact with the defendant, it was possible that particles could be transferred to him.

The trial continues.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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