Medical examiner: Shot fired from within a few feet of Brown

Published 2:11 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A medical examiner testified Tuesday that one of the shots that killed a rural Freeborn County man last summer was taken from within a couple feet away from the man.

Testimony came in the trial of David Michael Easter, 27, who is charged with killing Spencer Daniel Brown, 23. Brown was found dead the night of Aug. 23 in a locked 2001 Audi station wagon in the east side of a parking lot near Big Island pavilion. He suffered two gunshot wounds to the head.

Victor Froloff, a forensic pathologist at the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office, testified that one shot was at an intermediate distance — a couple of inches to a couple of feet away — while the other shot was at more of a distance. He said a definite determination of how far the .45-caliber pistol was from Brown’s head could not be determined.

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Froloff said in his opinion, Brown’s death was a homicide. He said the term was medical terminology and did not address whether the shooting was justifiable.

David Easter

Pictures Froloff took of the left side of Brown’s body were shown to the jury Tuesday. Gunshot wounds in his left temple area and lower on his face and associated damage were evident in the pictures. A picture of metal rods being placed at the wounds were shown to present the angle of the bullets.

According to Froloff, Brown suffered a severed brainstem and rapid blood loss from the shooting. An X-ray showed bullets found in Brown’s right orbital plate and cranial cavity.

Photos were also shown of Brown’s clothing and shoes.

According to Froloff, toxicology reports for Brown were negative for alcohol. Brown tested positive for nicotine, he said.

Public defender Michael Ryan showed pictures of Brown’s right hand to the jury.

Froloff described the process and precautions he takes during autopsies.

BCA forensic scientists describe evidence found on gun

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension forensic scientists testified that the DNA of David Easter and his wife, Karla Easter, were found on the .45-caliber pistol allegedly used in the shooting. Walker showed the pistol to the jury Tuesday morning. 

According to forensic scientist Ellen Jesmok, swabs taken from the gun showed that neither David or Karla Easter could be excluded from being possible contributors to DNA found on the trigger of the firearm. Karla Easter was matched to DNA found on the firearm’s magazine.

David Easter could not be excluded from being a possible contributor to the DNA mixture found on the grip of the firearm. The couple was excluded from contributing to the DNA mixture on the slide and safety portion of the gun.

In cross examination, Jesmok said it was possible the presence of DNA could be from regular home use or from other uses.

BCA forensic scientist Lisa Kinsella discussed the test she conducted on the pistol at the BCA lab.

She read the report she made of the investigation.

“I determined that the cartridge cases and bullets submitted were fired from the firearm,” she said.

Kinsella discussed the typical process she uses in examining firearms during an investigation.

According to Kinsella, she did not investigate the distance from Brown that the shots were fired from, determine an ejection pattern or examine Brown’s body.

See related stories:

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Jury hears 911 call from defendant the night of Brown’s death

Couple testifies to hearing gunshots night of state park shooting

Jury visits scene of shooting death in murder trial

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About Sam Wilmes

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

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