Prosecution points to shoe, jacket

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 5, 2001


Tuesday, June 05, 2001

HASTINGS, Minn. – Prosecutors concluded their case Monday against three men accused in connection with last summer’s double homicide in Austin’s Downtown Motel.

Email newsletter signup

Official witnesses’ testimony in a Dakota County courtroom linked key pieces of evidence to defendants Vernon Powers and Scott Christian. The tennis shoe Powers allegedly lost in a struggle during the robbery showed evidence of his DNA, said forensic expert Kristine Deters. A bloodstained jacket witnesses say belonged to Scott Christian was found near the spot the defendants allegedly disposed of evidence of the murders, said Philipp. And bullets found in the victims’ bodies can be traced back to the Ruger nine-millimeter semiautomatic handgun Powers is alleged to have used in the robbery.

Ramsey County medical examiners confirmed that Juan Vincente Ramirez and Raul Pedro Guiterrez died from their gunshot injuries.

In addition, Guiterrez’ head showed evidence of blunt trauma, which would be consistent with reports he was hit with the butt of a pistol, said Ramsey County Medical Examiner Dr. Michael McGee.

&uot;It’s due to some type of blunt trauma,&uot; McGee said. &uot;Either he was hit with something, or he ran into something.&uot;

Ramirez’ body showed evidence of being shot with different sized bullets, said Dr. Susan Roe, forensic pathologist and assistant medical examiner at the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office.

Defense attorneys will begin presenting their case today.

Also Monday, the judge denied defense attorneys’ request to acquit three men charged in connection with a June 30, 2000 murder in Austin’s Downtown Motel.

Attorneys for Vernon Powers, Scott Christian, and David Christian, all of St. Paul, asked Judge Donald Rysavy to acquit their clients because the state did not prove the men planned to kill St. Paul roofers Juan Vincente Ramirez and Raul Pedro Guiterrez. They also failed to show that Scott Christian and Powers aided and abetted each other or caused great bodily harm to a survivor of the incident, said said Powers’ defense Chester Swenson.

&uot;There is no showing that there was any planning that led to the death of these gentlemen, or that either Scott Christian or Mr. Powers aided each other in the firing of multiple shots,&uot; Swenson said.

Most prosecution witnesses – like Jenea Weinand, Janet Hall, and Tenisha Patterson – could be considered accomplices, said Scott Christian’s attorney Rick Smith. Their testimony has to be considered suspect, because they are working toward their own clemency, Smith said.

David Christian’s lawyer, Barry Voss, asked the judge to acquit his client on all remaining charges of aiding and abetting, assault, and causing death while attempting aggravated robbery.

&uot;Basically, all they have linking Christian to the crime is the testimony of accomplices,&uot; he said.

David Christian didn’t get any money from the robbery, didn’t dispose of evidence, didn’t threaten anyone, and didn’t know about the plan, Voss said.

&uot;If my client went into room 28 and encouraged people to shoot … or took a gun and started shooting … you can argue all day long on that, but my client was out in the car,&uot; he said.

Judge Rysavy denied all three requests, telling the attorneys he was satisfied with physical, testimonial and circumstantial evidence presented by the state.