The lead detective investigating the 2014 murder of Marine Cpl. Jonathan Price deflected suggestions by a defense attorney Wednesday that suspects other than co-defendants Quincinio Canada and Dawan Mulazim should have been considered.
Jurors also learned Wednesday that no DNA from the accused was found under Price's fingernails. A spent casing found at the Austin City Saloon parking lot where the shootings occurred was fired by the .45-caliber handgun police and prosecutors say was the murder weapon, but tests could not conclusively link the bullet removed from Price with the handgun.
Public defender Kim Green asked Detective Franz Wolff why he had not interviewed Antonio Frye, the man who sold the alleged murder weapon to a confidential informant of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in September 2014. Since opening arguments, the defense has maintained the police too quickly settled on Canada and Mulazim as the perpetrators and didn't consider other suspects.
Wolff said attempts were made to get an interview with Frye, who was taken into federal custody. Wolff said police wanted to know how Frye came into possession of gun used to shoot Price and his wife, Megan, in the parking lot of Austin City Saloon on June 21, 2014. But Frye refused to be interviewed.
Wolff added that he “had no reason to believe he (Frye) was there at the time.”
Green noted that no DNA sample was taken from Frye.
“He’s not a suspect in my case,” Wolff said.
On redirect examination, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kimberly Baird asked Wolff: “Can you make a person talk to you?”
“Absolutely not,” Wolff said.
Frye also could not be interviewed without the permission of his defense attorney, Wolff said.
Wolff said he didn't feel he had enough evidence to seek a warrant for Frye's DNA or phone records.
"So you made the decision not to even ask the judge" for a warrant," Green said in a second round of cross-examination.
"I typically don't just go and ask a judge if I don't believe that evidence exists," Wolff said. "...It was my opinion at that point in the investigation that probable cause for these search warrants did not exist."
In her opening statement, one of Mulazim's attorneys, Andrea Kendall, said DNA evidence found under Jonathan Price's fingernails will exonerate the men on trial. DNA excludes the two as suspects, she told jurors last week.
Megan Dillery Duff, a forensic biologist for Kentucky State Police, testified Wednesday no DNA from Mulazim or Canada was found on Jonathan Price's fingernails — even though his wife earlier testified he got into a "hitting and punching fight" with one of the men before he was killed.
A suspect's DNA is not always found under fingernails if there was a struggle, Duff said. There has to be sustained contact. If the hands were balled into fists, there would be no DNA.
Kim Green, who represents Mulazim, also noted that Wolff did not interview a clerk at Danny Scott Liquor who had sold cigarettes to customers in a silver Chevy Malibu before the shooting. Police believe Mulazim was driving the car and that Canada was a passenger. The liquor store is near Austin City Saloon, and the car was recorded on video surveillance driving through the parking lot outside the bar before the shooting.
Wolff said the clerk wasn’t interviewed in part because Mulazim’s sister, Nafeesa, had identified the driver as her brother.
“It was better to have him identified by his own sister,” Wolff said.
The jury also heard testimony from Antoine Woods, who said he saw Canada on the night of the shooting. Canada, whom Woods knew as “Q man,” was a passenger in a car on Hedgewood Court, just blocks southeast of the shooting scene. Woods said Canada told him that he “just shot somebody.”
But defense attorney Chris Tracy suggested that Woods had his own troubles because he had been charged with several felonies, and Woods later told another investigator that he “made up” the story about Canada's statement..
In other testimony, Lawrence Pilcher, a firearms examiner for Kentucky State Police, said a spent shell casing found in the Austin City Saloon parking lot was fired by the gun recovered by ATF. But Pilcher said it was inconclusive whether the bullet recovered from the autopsy of Jonathan Price was fired by that gun.
The trial will resume at 10:30 a.m. Thursday on the fourth anniversary of the Price shootings. Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine told jurors that she anticipates that the prosecution will finish presenting its case and the defense will begin presenting its case.
Goodwine said closing arguments and jury instructions will be on Monday, at which time the jury will begin deliberations.