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Everything you need to know from Day 5 of the Tensing trial

Week 2 of trial begins with a dozen witnesses
Tensing Day 5 recap: Everything you need to know
Tensing Day 5 recap: Everything you need to know
Posted at 2:10 PM, Nov 07, 2016

CINCINNATI -- A lot happened Monday in Day 5 of the murder trial of former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing.

A dozen witnesses testified. The prosecution tried to counter Tensing's claim that motorist Sam DuBose dragged him during a traffic stop that ultimately would end in DuBose's death.

The prosecution also rested its case after the deputy coroner testified a single gunshot wound to the head was what killed DuBose on July 19, 2015.

And even though Judge Megan Shanahan barred defense attorney Stew Mathews from presenting DuBose's medical history to jurors, he did get the deputy coroner to indicate DuBose was not completely healthy when he died.

Here are some takeaways:

1) Tensing's gear didn't show signs that he was dragged.

Michael Trimpe, a trace evidence examiner with the Hamilton County Coroner's Office, was the first to testify. He said he found no auto paint on Tensing's belt that might indicate it scraped up against DuBose's car door -- something that may have happened if Tensing had been dragged. When Mathews questioned him, Trimpe acknowledged a lack of paint doesn't necessarily mean Tensing wasn't dragged.

He also said there were no obvious abrasions or scratches on Tensing's boots indicating they'd been dragged on pavement and found no notable scratches on DuBose's car door.

His testimony is meant to counter Mathews' claim that Tensing feared for his life because DuBose refused to get out of the car and dragged him.

Watch his entire testimony below:

 

2) We now know what Tensing looked like at the hospital after the shooting.

Michael Odom, an officer with the Cincinnati Police Department's criminalistics unit, said he didn't see Tensing bleeding when he photographed and collected evidence from him at University of Cincinnati Medical Center the night of the shooting.

Odom described four photographs he took of Tensing -- one from the front, one from the rear, and two of injuries Tensing pointed out to him. One showed Tensing's left inner forearm, where there was a scar, and the other showed Tensing's knee, which had a slight abrasion but wasn't bleeding, Odom said. He didn't ask Tensing how he received those injuries.

"I just wanted to photograph any injuries he may have," he said.

This photo, showing former UC police officer Ray Tensing in the hospital, was submitted as evidence on Day 5 of Tensing's murder trial. Click here for images of other evidence in the case.

They didn't have any conversations, but, Odom testified: "When I went there, he seemed nervous or afraid."

3) DuBose had a large quantity of marijuana in the car.

Brian Scowden, chief drug analyst at the Hamilton County Coroner's Office, testified DuBose had about four containers of marijuana in his car when he was stopped, more than 200 grams altogether. Mathews has hinted he may try to argue DuBose had a reason to flee, perhaps fearing jail time because of the large amount of marijuana.

4) Tensing's weapon didn't have a hair trigger. But could the recoil have knocked him over?

Edward Kevin Lattyak, a firearms expert with the Hamilton County Coroner's Office, walked jurors through how a semiautomatic firearm works and explained how investigators can determine which weapon fired a bullet.

He also testified the muzzle of Tensing's gun was more than a foot but less than 2 feet from DuBose's head when Tensing fired.

If the defense planned to argue Tensing's weapon had a hair trigger -- that even a light touch could fire it -- Lattyak seemed to shut that down. He said the Sig Sauer P320 was in "like-new" condition, and that its trigger fell in the middle of ranges of force typically needed to fire a gun.

Mathews asked Lattyak if, when test-firing the weapon, the recoil caused him to fall over. No, Lattyak said, adding he's typically prepared and braced for the recoil when testing a weapon. Mathews asked him if someone trained in the weapon would be similarly prepared. Lattyak agreed.

And then Mathews drove home a point he's been trying to make throughout the case: Since he testified the Sig Sauer was a deadly weapon, could the same be said of an automobile?

"Common sense would tell you that," Lattyak said.

5) Tensing was warned against reaching into vehicles, something officers sometimes do.

Scott Hughes, police chief for Warren County's Hamilton Township, testified he teaches a course on tactics in traffic stops -- a course Ray Tensing took. Hughes couldn't be in court Monday, so instead jurors were read his deposition.

A slide shown during Hughes' class, also shown to jurors Monday, says in large yellow text: "NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER Reach into a vehicle." Hughes also said he teaches students about Kevin Crayon, a Cincinnati Police Department officer killed in the line of duty 16 years ago when he reached into a suspect's vehicle to retrieve the keys. Crayon's arm became tangled in the steering wheel, and he was dragged, ultimately dying of his injuries.

Under cross-examination from Mathews, Hughes agreed there were no absolutes in law enforcement but wouldn't say officers "frequently" reach into vehicles.

"I would say it does happen," he said.

6) The gunshot caused DuBose to immediately collapse.

Dr. Karen Looman, the chief deputy coroner who performed DuBose's autopsy, said Tensing's shot would have caused DuBose to immediately collapse. The bullet entered above his ear on the left side of his head and exited behind his right ear, separating his brain from his brain stem.

"As soon as that bullet cut off his brain stem, there is no more thought, there is no more purposeful movement of his arms or legs," she said. After that, he would have collapsed.

A complete examination of DuBose's body showed nothing contributed to his death on July 19, 2015 other than Tensing's shot, she said.

"The cause of death is a single gunshot wound to the head, and the manner of death is homicide," she said.

On cross-examination, Mathews hinted at evidence that Shanahan barred from trial: DuBose's health. Asked if DuBose was a "completely healthy individual" on July 19, 2015, Looman responded "No." The question came only after the attorneys and Shanahan met in the judge's chambers, and Mathews asked Looman to respond with a simple "Yes" or "No."

Looman also testified DuBose had more than $2,600 in cash on him when he died, as well as baggies with "leafy matter."

Watch her entire testimony below (warning: contains graphic images some viewers may find disturbing):

 

7) Officers at the scene say Tensing seemed stunned and scuffed up.

Once the prosecution rested its case, Mathews' first witnesses were fellow UCPD officers and Cincinnati Police Department staff who hadn't yet testified.

Officer Jeffrey Van Pelt said he was on duty and worked some traffic stops with Tensing the day he shot DuBose. When he got to the shooting scene, he said Tensing's handcuff case was scraped, and there was a mark on his pants that looked like they'd been scraped, too.

Tensing was shaking his left arm and looking down at his elbow.

"He looked scared to death, and to me, he appeared white as a ghost," Van Pelt said.

Watch his entire testimony below:

 

Officer Derek Noland also said Tensing didn't appear to be angry or upset, and the back of Tensing's shirt was untucked. Tensing's uniform was always in order, Noland said

"He appeared very white, almost shocked," Noland said. "I've never seen him like that."

Cincinnati Police Officer Tom Wells, a 22-year veteran, also said Tensing was "holding his arm and rubbing it" and noticed discoloration on Tensing's pants.

Another CPD officer, Nathan Asbury, testified he saw an abrasion to Tensing's left knee and swelling and redness on Tensing's left forearm. Tensing was calm, he said.

And CPD Sgt. Dan Carder said he noticed dirt on Tensing's back and observed him shaking his hand, as though he "hit his funny bone." He also said he saw Tensing go white and start sweating. Tensing looked like he was stunned, Carder said.

8) An alternate juror leaves the case.

Shanahan started the day by announcing she'll seek to keep redacted copies of juror questionnaires from public view. The high amount of media attention to the case ultimately caused a juror to leave the case, she said.

"Alternate juror No. 4 has opted to remove herself from service due to this distraction," Shanahan said.

For more trial coverage, go to wcpo.com/TensingTrial.