06/30/10 — Opening arguments begin in murder trial

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Opening arguments begin in murder trial

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on June 30, 2010 1:46 PM

A ballistics expert and an emergency responder testified Tuesday in Wayne County Superior Court in the trial of Brandon Lee Williams, who is accused of the 2008 murder of Silvia Benitez Morales.

Mrs. Morales was found shot to death at her home on Black Creek Road near Fremont. The only witness was her son, who was 3 years old at the time. Her body was found by her daughter when the 8-year-old returned home from school.

Investigators said someone also had attempted to rape Mrs. Morales before killing her.

Williams, 25, lived a few miles away.

On Tuesday, SBI ballistics expert Adam Tanner testified about his examination of .380-caliber bullet casings found at the scene of the crime.

Authorities never found the gun, which complicated Tanner's work, he said.

"There is no scientific way, in the absence of the firearm itself, to say that a fired bullet and a fired cartridge case, were fired by the same firearm," Tanner said.

Defense attorney Geoff Hulse asked Tanner what conclusions he could draw from his investigation of the casings.

"Bottom line, the material and design of the one that was actually fired, the deformed bullet, does not appear in any of those other three cartridges that were submitted?" Hulse asked.

"No, it was not," Tanner said.

Emergency Medical Technician Dawn Broadway, one of first people to arrive at the scene, also testified, describing the scene and the state of Mrs. Morales' clothing and undergarments as it related to pending attempted rape and sexual assault charges.

She said Mrs. Morales was found in a room, lying on her back. She also testified that emergency workers discovered spinal fluid in her ear, indicating brain damage and that Mrs. Morales' clothing had been disturbed. She said under cross-examination that she could not tell definitively why or how the clothing had been disturbed.

Additional testimony from the state was expected to begin at 9 a.m. today in Wayne County Superior Court.

Williams faces life in prison if convicted of the killing.