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Jury flooded with details in murder testimony

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The doctor touched his forehead with his middle finger. A deliberate, older man with the trace of a lisp, he touched the spot several times.

"A right frontal wound," he said to the jury. "Right to left, front to back, and at a slightly downward angle."

Douglas Posey, Jr., a Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner, told a Clayton County jury about his autopsy of Travis Scott, an 18-year-old who was shot to death in September. He described the autopsy in details both clinical and disturbing: Blood from the bullet wound seeped down into the dead man's eyes, the doctor said, and radial cracks covered the skull around two 9 mm holes.

At one point, while using his hands to explain the autopsy process, Posey stopped and said, "I don't want to gross anyone out."

"Dr. Posey," said Dawn Belisel-Skinner, the county prosecutor, "based on your experience with autopsies and your review of the evidence, have you formed an opinion about the cause of death in this case?"

"Yes I have."

"And what is that?"

"Gunshot wound to the head," Posey said.

The GBI doctor was one of a number of experts, officials and witnesses who spoke to the jury on Wednesday, in the trial of Jonathan Lavonta Slack, the 21-year-old who allegedly shot and killed Scott "for no reason," after a long night of drinking, doing drugs and playing cards.

The witnesses testified to a deluge of details, details the District Attorney's office hopes to accumulate into a conviction. But the defense attorney kept coming up with unanswered questions raised by the evidence.

One Clayton County police officer testified that he found a 12 gauge shotgun behind a water heater on the outside of the apartment building where the murder occurred. A crime scene investigator said she sort of remembered something about a shotgun, but she didn't have one in evidence. The officer said he found keys and a purse, dumped behind the building, along with a wallet, a cell phone charger, a bag of unidentified white power and a perfume bottle bearing the name "Jasmine Prince."

"What does Jasmine Prince have to do with this case?" Steve Frey, the attorney defending Slack, asked the officer.

"I have no idea," the officer said.

Using a diagram of the College Park apartment, and more than 20 photographs of the crime scene, the witnesses marked where they'd found spent shell casings, where they'd found lodged bullets. One lump of lead was in a neighbor's couch, another was stopped by a picture frame on the far side of a wall. One shell casing was in an ashtray, between cigarette butts, and the other was in the hall.

Frey asked one witness, Detective Stefan Schindler, about the shell casing he'd found halfway down a hallway, away from where Scott was shot and where a crowd spend the night partying.

"Is it reasonable to believe that a shell would end up here?" Frey asked.

"Not unless they kicked it," Schindler said.

"They would have had to kick that shell another eight feet," Frey said.

The jury ended the second, full day of the trial at about 5 p.m. They were expected to return Thursday morning, and hear more evidence in the case against Slack.

If convicted, the 21-year-old faces a maximum possible sentence of life in prison.