Prosecution, defense rest in Trott case
CLARION – The defense called no witnesses Thursday in the first-degree murder trial of Corey Trott, and jurors are expected to hear closing arguments today.
The prosecution rested shortly before noon, and Trott declined to testify in his own behalf.
Trott is accused of shooting and killing Rockwell City Police Officer Jamie Buenting during a standoff at Trott’s home on Sept. 13, 2013.
The trial was moved to Clarion due to a change of venue.
Jurors Thursday morning heard testimony from Carl Bessman, a criminalist with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, who works with firearms.
He examined the .223-caliber rifle found in Trott’s home, which was identified in previous testimony as the gun used to shoot Buenting.
Bessman said the gun is a repeating bolt-action rifle and said it can be either fired with a magazine or one at a time with individual rounds.
He compared a Wolf brand .223 shell casing that was recovered from Trott’s home to the rifle and said he “could identify the fired shell casing as the one fired from the rifle.”
Live Wolf .223 rounds found in Trott’s home were also consistent with the shell casing, according to Bessman.
But he said he was not able to positively identify the bullet recovered from Buenting’s body as one that was fired from the rifle.
“The bullet that was removed at autopsy was badly damaged,” Bessman said. “This bullet had been flattened from side to side and it had been twisted or rotated.”
However, there were some parts of the bullet that matched.
“Because of impact damage, I was able to conclude the classic characteristics, the number of lands and grooves were all similar,” Bessman said. “But the individual characteristics to make a positive identification could not be found.”
That doesn’t mean the bullet didn’t come from Trott’s rifle, according to Bessman.
“I know it fits the classic characteristics,” he said, and added the bullet recovered from Buenting was a .223 rifle round and said it was consistent with the Wolf ammunition that had been test-fired from the rifle.
He also examined Buenting’s clothing for traces of gunshot residue to see if he could determine the distance between the officer and the rifle.
“My analysis was limited,” he said. “There’s a certain point at which a firearm no longer deposits residue. It’s analogous to throwing a handful of flour. It goes a ways and falls to the ground.”
The only residue Bessman found was on the bullet hole near the nape of Buenting’s shirt.
In testing, Bessman said he fired the bullets at targets between 2-6 feet away at the DCI’s gun range. Residue was found on the target at 5 feet, but not the one at 6 feet.
Dr. Jonathan Thompson, associate state medical examiner, performed Buenting’s autopsy. He ruled Buenting’s death a homicide caused by a gunshot wound.
Though he wasn’t able to tell the angle of the bullet as it hit Buenting, Thompson could see the path of the bullet. He said it entered through the base of the neck and upper left chest area and stopped in Buenting’s right tricep.
Calhoun County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Feldhans told jurors that the day after Buenting died, Trott was in a holding cell at the Sac County Jail awaiting his initial appearance.
Trott was alone in the cell.
As Feldhans watched Trott on a closed circuit monitor, he heard Trott singing to himself about Buenting.
“He sang the same three words,” Feldhans said. “‘Jamie got shot. Jamie got shot. Jamie got shot.'”
Feldhans described Trott’s voice as being in a “high-pitched mocking tone.”
Eventually, according to Feldhans, Trott started talking in a “vicious, loud, aggressive voice.”
He testified that Trott used vulgarities while saying “shot in the neck” before Trott “struck his mattress with his hand.”
Closing arguments are expected from prosecutors and defense before jurors begin deliberations today.