05/02/12 — Investigator grilled on crime scene processing

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Investigator grilled on crime scene processing

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 2, 2012 1:46 PM

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Rashard Oliver is led into the courtroom before testimony Tuesday as he faces murder charges in connection with the robbery, shooting and eventual death of a city convenience store owner.

Dwayne Dean

Moments after the state rested its case against the three men accused of shooting a Goldsboro convenience store owner in 2008, the defendants addressed the court.

But the jury was not present when Joshua Davis, Quentin Kenon and Rashard Oliver told Special Superior Court Judge Jack Jenkins that they would not take the stand -- that they had no evidence or witnesses to present to the 12 local residents who will soon determine whether they will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Defense attorneys -- at the request of their clients -- opted out of stating their respective cases.

But before Assistant District Attorney Mike Ricks concluded his, the defense took aim at one of the prosecution's key witnesses.

Goldsboro police investigator Dwayne Dean spent much of Tuesday afternoon defending the way he processed the Brookside Convenient Mart less than an hour after the shooting occurred.

Defense Attorney Randall Hughes asked him why fingerprints were not collected at the scene -- why particular pieces of evidence, including a cigarette butt, were not analyzed by DNA experts.

And he questioned Dean's decision to work alone -- why he chose not to call on crime scene specialists to assist him inside the store.

Dean, though, said his logic was sound -- that when he was told by the first officer to arrive at Brookside that several people were inside when he pulled up, that they jumped the counter in an attempt to aid Ribhi Kandeel, he determined that no admissible fingerprints could be extracted from the scene.

And he simply failed to notice the cigarette butt until Hughes pointed it out in a photograph the sergeant took nearly four years ago.

But Hughes was not the only one who grilled Dean about the way he handled his investigation.

Defense Attorney Mary Darrow characterized the way he interrogated her client, Rashard Oliver, as "aggressive."

And she asked him to confirm that Oliver said he was "cool" with Kandeel -- that he repeatedly denied involvement in what happened at Brookside despite Dean's prodding.

Her passion, though, was not the only emotion displayed inside Courtroom No. 4 Tuesday.

Kandeel's daughters wept when Dean, during Ricks' redirect, read the statement their father gave to police from a hospital bed a few days after a bullet left him paralyzed.

"The guy I picked out wore a ... red and yellow T-shirt with some design. After he kicked me in the face, he said, 'I think he's dead.' He took the money from my pocket, $2,000. He rolled me over to get the money," Dean read. "When he kicked me, the mask went down completely and I could see all his face. He came and bought something first and then left. After he took my money, he walked behind the counter and started searching for stuff. Somebody else was the one who asked me for a T-shirt. I don't know who shot because I had turned to get the shirt.

"When he said that he thought I was dead, I didn't make any movement. There was blood coming from my nose. He had on a red mask, folded from corner to corner."

And more tears fell when Ricks asked the witness to recount the girls' father's reaction to coming across a photo of Oliver during a lineup shown to him moments after he signed that statement.

"He quickly said, 'That is him. I am positive. That is the (expletive deleted) that kicked me in my face ... and took my money, $2,000, from my pocket. I am absolutely sure that is him. When I got shot, I fell to the floor. He walked up and kicked me in my nose and said, 'I think he's dead.' Then he rolled me on my side and took my money. That is him,'" Dean read.

Other highlights from the investigator's testimony -- and everything else that unfolded Tuesday -- include:

* Dean testified that he conducted an informal interview with Kandeel less than 48 hours after the shooting -- that the store owner initially said four men had robbed him and that one of them appeared to be Hispanic. But when the victim gave his official statement two days later, he told Dean that only three men were involved, and that he could identify one of them. Moments later, during a photo lineup, Kandeel would state that Rashard Oliver was the man who kicked him in the face and said, "I think he's dead."

* Dean testified that residents of the Courtyard housing projects did not cooperate with his investigation -- that those witnesses who received subpoenas were reluctant and scared to testify against Davis, Kenon and Oliver.

* Using a photograph he took the night of the shooting, Dean pointed out several lights that surround the convenience store. Defense attorneys had questioned, during the testimony of eyewitness Marquetta Quinn, whether the area had enough lighting to support her claim that she saw the three defendants jump a fence, head toward Brookside and flee the scene moments after shots were fired inside.

* Ricks was authorized to admit a document into evidence -- one he said corroborates previous testimony that Christopher Alexander, the man arrested for possessing the pistol allegedly stolen from Brookside the night of the shooting, was incarcerated Aug. 18, 2008. Defense attorneys inferred last week that, perhaps, Alexander could have committed the crime.

* After the state rested its case, all three defense attorneys requested that the charges against their respective clients be dismissed. The court denied each of those requests.

* Jenkins told the jury he expected the case to be in their hands Wednesday.