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IOWA CITY, Iowa - The gun that killed Donelle Lindsey was likely only inches away from him when two fatal shots were fired into his chest.
Dr. Marcus Nashelsky, a forensic pathologist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, testified Monday morning that Lindsey was shot five times. But, it was two shots at close range that hit his heart, liver and right kidney that killed the Iowa City man.
"The nature of this injury of the heart would have caused unconsciousness very quickly, probably within seconds," Nashelsky said. "Death would have followed shortly thereafter."
Police believe the man who fired those fatal shots was 28-year-old Brandon Brown, who is in the second week of his first-degree murder trial. However, the lead investigator in the death investigation said Monday that the gun used in the killing was never recovered nor were any spent shell casings.
Brown is accused of gunning down Lindsey, 30, of Iowa City, on June 21, 2012. According to witnesses and police, Brown asked Lindsey to walk down the street with him at 11:26 p.m. that night and an argument ensued. Police said Brown pulled a handgun and shot Lindsey multiple times at close range. Paramedics were called to 2437 Petsel Place and Lindsey was taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he was pronounced dead.
Brown fled the area, but was arrested two months later on Aug. 21 at a home belonging to one of his friends in South Holland, Ill. Police tracked him there after receiving a tip Brown was in the area.
Nashelsky and Iowa City police Det. David Gonzalez were the state's final two witnesses. The defense will call its first witness this afternoon.
Nashelsky outlined Lindsey's injuries while autopsy photos were shown. Light sobbing could be heard in the courtroom while the photos were displayed.
The cause of death cause of Lindsey's death was determined to be gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen, Nashelsky testified, and the manner of death was determined to be homicide. Under cross-examination, Nashelsky defined homicide to mean death at the hands of another person. He made no determine whether the shooting was justified or not.
Under cross-examination, Nashelsky testified that THC – the active ingredient in marijuana – and alcohol were in Lindsey's blood at the time of his death. Nashelsky said Lindsey's blood-alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit of .08 percent.
Gonzalez testified that the investigation required a large police presence.
"It was dynamic at the beginning," he said. "We needed to get out there. We needed to patrol the scene, secure the scene. We needed to interview witnesses."
More than 20 Iowa City police and Division of Criminal Investigation agents assisted in the investigation, which turned up no gun or spent shell casings, Gonzalez testified.
Under cross-examination, Gonzalez testified that physical evidence took on less importance as the police relied on eye witness evidence. Three of those witnesses – Byron Fisher, DiMarco Harris and Nicole Blosser – have testified for the state, but have been shown to be previously uncooperative or dishonest with police.
The defense called its first two witnesses Monday afternoon before breaking early for the day. Sonya Blosser, mother of Nicole Blosser – who allegedly drove Ivan Hardemon and Brown to Chicago following the shooting – testified about her recollections of the night of the shooting. Sonya Blosser said her statement to police only included some details about the night of the shooting because she confused it with events from the previous evening, including when Hardemon and her daughter left and returned to Nicole's apartment.
The second witness was Brett Kriz, a friend of Nicole Blosser's and Hardemon's. Kriz was questioned about receiving a box containing two guns from Blosser and Hardemon the day after the shooting, but invoked his Fifth Amendment right to not make self-incriminating statements.
Defense attorney Brian Sissel request a motion for a judgment of acquittal following the state resting its case. Assistant Johnson County Attorney Dana Christiansen resisted the motion, noting the state presented eye witnesses whose testimony could be used by the jury to convict Brown.
Bergan denied Sissel's motion.
The defense will call Brown's mother and Iowa City police Sgt. Paul Batcheller Tuesday morning.