Jury might be able to visit scene of fatal A.L. shooting

Published 4:59 pm Friday, January 20, 2017

Jurors might be able to visit the scene of a fatal shooting this spring during the jury trial of a Brownsdale man charged with second-degree murder.

David Michael Easter, 26, is charged in the Aug. 23 shooting death of Spencer Daniel Brown, 23, of rural Freeborn County. Brown was found dead that evening in a locked 2001 Audi station wagon in a parking lot near the Big Island pavilion at Myre-Big Island State Park.

Public Defender Adrianne McMahon said during a motions hearing Friday that the jury should have a first-hand look at the scene because there is a lack of photo and video evidence of the area where Brown was killed. She said by visiting the scene, the jury would be able to contextualize the crime scene.

David Easter

David Easter

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She cited a state statute that allows juries to view the crime scene if it helps address a material factual issue.

In arguing against the motion, Freeborn County Attorney David Walker said he did not see how visiting the crime scene would help resolve a material factual issue. He claimed because of differing seasons, daylight and lack of other vehicles at the scene during the shooting, the visit would not be helpful.

“The scene is going to be different,” he said.

McMahon said though the season would be different, the main features of the area will still be in place.

District Court Judge Steven Schwab took the motion under advisement and plans to issue a ruling this week.

After the shooting, Easter reportedly told dispatchers he had shot Brown in self-defense and claimed Brown approached him with what appeared to be a bat.

Easter’s wife and infant daughter were also reportedly at the pavilion at the time of the shooting but were not injured.

Authorities stated in August evidence did not show the shooting was in self-defense.

In an interview with law enforcement, Easter’s wife said her husband had confronted the victim at the victim’s car and the two had exchanged words, but she noted she did not hear everything they were saying, court documents state. She said she heard the victim tell her husband to stop shining the light on him, before hearing two gunshots and seeing that her husband had shot the other man.

A jury trial in the case is scheduled to begin March 28.

Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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