Defense and prosecution expert witnesses allowed to testify in Tensing trial, judge rules

Posted at 11:19 AM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-26 20:28:28-04

CINCINNATI -- Judge Leslie Ghiz ruled Friday that expert witness Ray Tensing’s defense team plans to call to testify during the ex-police officer’s retrial is, indeed, qualified as an “expert.”

The prosecutor's video analysis expert, who testified in the first trial, is also qualified, the judge ruled.

The defense’s expert, Scott Roder, said he’s worked as an evidence specialist for 24 years. Currently, he’s Executive Head and Evidence Specialist for The Evidence Room; the Evidence Room’s website says Roder has 17 years experience in demonstrative evidence consulting.

He said he's not a forensic scientist, however.

Ghiz said Roder didn't need to be a scientist to analyze video.

"There are plenty of (Cincinnati police officers) who look at body camera footage all day," she said. "They're not scientists, but they could tell you exactly what's happening."

Roder testified that he and a team of seven employees reviewed Tensing’s body camera footage and reconstructed the crime scene.

When questioned by Assistant Prosecutor Stacey DeGraffenreid, Roder said he is not an expert video analyst; rather, his expertise is in forensic animation and crime scene reconstruction.

“You do not need to be a video analyst to analyze video,” Roder said. “You just have to take a common sense approach.”

Roder said he was first contacted by the defense in February. Then, he visited the shooting scene in Mount Auburn with his staff, Tensing and his defense team. From there, he used a tape measure, drone and other tools to see if Tensing’s account of the shooting was possible.

Ghiz said Roder's animations of the scene --- altered versions of the original images -- cannot be used in the trial.

Ghiz didn't elaborate much on the decision with Fredericks; Prosecutor Joe Deters weighed heavily on Fredericks' testimony in Tensing's first trial.

Fredericks delivered a 45-minute analysis of the three seconds before, during and after Tensing shot DuBose. He testified that the body camera video - broken down frame by frame to the millisecond -  indicated DuBose had not been moving to "speed away" from a traffic stop when Tensing shot him.

WATCH: Fredericks' testimony in the first Tensing trial

Deters referred back to Fredericks' testimony while cross-examining Tensing, saying the expert's testimony debunked Tensing's own account.

The defense had its own expert on the stand: James Scanlon, a 33-year Columbus police veteran who said he volunteered to serve free as the defense's expert witness.

Scanlon said he reviewed the video and concluded Tensing's shooting of DuBose was justified and within police policies and procedures, but Scanlon acknowledged that he's a training officer, not a video analyst. Under cross examination, Scanlon couldn't counter the facts demonstrated by the prosecutor's expert witness and his frame-by-frame analysis.

Assistant Prosecutor Rick Gibson dismissed Scanlon as a "lay person just like anyone on the jury."

Ghiz also ruled that Tensing's undershirt -- which bears a Confederate flag -- from the day of the shooting could not be included in evidence.

Ghiz agreed, saying the shirt was "far too prejudicial" to be allowed as evidence.

The judge also ruled that video of Tensing's prior traffic stops -- which showed no conflict -- can be included. The videos were shown in the first trial.

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