Testimony ends in Auburn Walmart parking lot shooting trial
AUGUSTA – As testimony ended on Tuesday in the murder trial of an Auburn man accused of shooting and killing a Turner man in the Auburn Walmart parking lot in 2019, lawyers for both sides focused on the location of the weapon when fired – a key point of contention in determining whether the shooting could have been in self-defense.
Final arguments are expected Wednesday morning, with the case likely to go to the jury for deliberation and a verdict after the lawyers’ final words, according to Superior Court Judge William Stokes.
Tuesday’s testimony focused on the location of the 9-millimeter Glock pistol that Gage Dalphonse, 23, of Auburn, used to shoot Jean Fournier, 41, of Turner, twice on the evening of the July 27, 2019. A testimony also highlighted where Fournier was when Dalphonse pulled the trigger.
Defense attorneys and Dalphonse’s father Daniel sought throughout the trial to show Gage Dalphonse a gunshot from inside his car, after Fournier confronted him and hit him with a shot. times, and while Fournier was still at the driver’s side window.
On Monday, they showed a demo video and photographs taken by Daniel Dalphonse in the months leading up to the trial, which they said showed Fournier still had to be at the driver’s side window of Gage Dalphonse. They cited the angle of the entry wounds in Fournier’s back, the presence of bullet residue inside the driver’s rear side window of the car and the fact that one of the two cartridge cases was found on the driver’s side floor mat inside the car.
In rebuttal testimony, however, Detective Sgt. Scott Bryant, Evidence Response Team Commander for Maine State Police at the State Criminal Lab, said the video made by Dalphonse’s father “tells me the gun did not been pulled inside the car ”.
Bryant said where a bullet casing is ejected is not a reliable indicator of where a gun was when it was fired, as the path of the casings can vary due to many factors, including the type of ammo, the way the weapon was held, and the possibility that the case would bounce off other objects, as the cases did in the demo video, both hitting the steering wheel and bouncing to the right.
Prosecution witnesses have previously said that Gage Dalphonse shot Fournier as he leaned out of his car window as he fled.
Video footage of the Walmart security cameras incident shows Fournier running past Gage Dalphonse’s hatchback Volkswagen GTI and taking two or three steps past the end of the car before collapsing to the ground after being shot.
With Bryant at the helm, defense attorney James Howaniec raised the issue of state police apparently losing the cartridge case that landed in the car. An officer at the scene noted and marked the location of the bullet casing inside the car, but left it there and the car was taken by flatbed truck to the state laboratory in Augusta, where forensic experts processed its contents. But they couldn’t find the case, admitted Bryant and Kimberly James, a senior laboratory scientist who oversees the gun unit at the Maine State Crime Laboratory on Tuesday.
Instead, Daniel Dalphonse said, he found the cartridge case in the floor of the car after it was returned to the family by police about three weeks after the shooting, which he said was shocking.
James said she knew a case had been located in the vehicle, but said it was never submitted to the crime lab for processing. She said she had since been made aware that the case was inside the car, but lab workers who treated the car while she was in the lab could not find it.
Bryant said he observed both the case in the car and the one found in the parking lot at the crime scene, but did not know what happened to him after the vehicle was taken to the crime lab. He said the case and its location in the car were considered part of his assessment of what happened in the shooting, although he went missing while in police custody.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, everyone in the courtroom was required to wear masks. Stokes told witnesses that if they had been vaccinated they could remove their masks to testify on the witness stand, but allowed them to leave them if they wished. He asked witnesses testifying with their masks to briefly remove their masks so the jury could see their faces.
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