09/16/05 — Shot to the chest killed Yarborough, expert testifies

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Shot to the chest killed Yarborough, expert testifies

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on September 16, 2005 1:50 PM

A shot to the chest that struck his heart and other vital organs killed Jonathan Deon Yarborough last year, a medical expert testified Thursday in Wayne Superior Court.

Dr. John Butts, the state's chief medical examiner, said Thursday during the first-degree murder trial of Marcus Dominique Moore, 26, of Denmark Street.

Dr. Butts testified that the fatal shot was fired at a downward angle. He said a second gunshot to the left of Yarborough's back would not have been fatal. He said cuts on Yarborough's face were made at about the same time as the gunshots.

Moore is accused of shooting Yarborough, 31, of Beal Street, on April 16, 2004, in what Goldsboro police say was an argument over drugs. The victim's body was found at about 1:30 a.m. outside of a home at 511 Denmark St., where Moore had lived.

Moore is not on trial for his life. If he is convicted of first-degree murder, he would be sentenced to life in prison.

A DNA expert with the State Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent Sharon Hinton, testified Thursday that a sample obtained from a handgun matched a sample collected from Moore. The sample was collected by Connie Bandy, the city nurse.

Ms. Hinton testified that the sample did not match Yarborough's DNA.

Special Agent Neil Morin, a firearms expert, testified that no gunshot residue was found on Yarborough's shirt. Because of that fact, he said the gun was fired at least three feet from the victim.

But Morin admitted to defense lawyer Geoff Hulse that some residue could be removed by a sheet covering the victim or by Yarborough's rolling on the ground during a scuffle.

Assistant District Attorney Matt Delbridge is expected to finish the prosecution's case today.

Moore likely will take the stand later today. He is expected to say the shooting was self-defense.

The trial resumed Thursday after a one-day delay because of Hurricane Ophelia. Judge Jay D. Hockenbury commutes from Wilmington, and that coastal city was brushed by the storm Wednesday.

Two jurors, however, misinterpreted a message left by the Clerk of Courts Office and did not show up at the appointed time. One was found within a half-hour, but the other was not located until about 1 p.m. Court resumed at 1:30 p.m.

During a mid-afternoon break, another juror passed a note to the judge that she knew two spectators who had been sitting behind the defense table. The juror said one was one of her teachers and the other was a neighbor. Delbridge said he was considering asking the judge to remove the juror. But after interviewing her, Hockenbury ruled that she could stay.

During cross-examination of the day's first witness, Linda M. Keesler, then a police identifications officer, Hulse objected to her comments about how the shooting occurred on a report of items to be analyzed by the SBI crime lab. Mrs. Keesler admitted that the information came from investigators.

With the jury outside of the courtroom, Hulse argued that Mrs. Keesler had written that there were two scenarios of how the shooting occurred, including self-defense. Delbridge contended that Hulse was trying to introduce to the jury his idea of how it happened. After the sides wrangled over the issue for about an hour, Hockenbury ruled that the statement could be used only to show the witness' state of mind.

Mrs. Keesler admitted that there were two scenarios. The shooting could have followed an argument or a struggle.

Mrs. Keesler also testified that windows in the eyewitness' home were about 85 to 95 feet away from the victim's body. She also said she did not take a photo from the home of Shalita Hopson.