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Prosecution rests on day 2 of murder trial

MORGANTOWN — The prosecution rested at the end of the second day of trial on Wednesday for a man accused of murdering a West Virginia University student, after testimony from multiple police officers involved, forensic experts and the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy.

Shaundarius Reeder, 21, is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for killing 21-year-old Eric J. Smith at College Park on Feb. 28, 2020.

Three Granville police officers testified about arresting Reeder and his co-defendant, Terrell Linear — who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last week — at the University Town Centre Walmart. Jurors watched bodycam footage from those officers and saw surveillance footage from the store showing the two arrests.

The officers learned Reeder and Linear were at Walmart because Sahara Lester, a friend of Reeder’s who agreed to give them a ride to her place from downtown, was hiding in the bathroom talking to the police. On Tuesday, she testified that after Reeder and Linear got back in her car at College Park, they demanded she take them to Fairmont instead. 

Lester said she learned Smith was shot when a friend who was with him called her, and she made excuses to use the bathroom at Walmart before driving them to Fairmont and called her friend back — who then handed the phone to police on scene at College Park.

Sgt. John Groves was not the first on scene but he was the first inside Walmart and he handcuffed Reeder. Groves said he had an ‘oh crap’ moment because Reeder walked into the store just steps ahead of him and 911 gave a description of the suspects just as Groves got past the cart area and into the store proper.

Groves then handed Reeder to Officer Ryan Gannon and went to help Officer Jessica Colebank, who was detaining Linear. As Gannon went to grab Reeder, Reeder attempted to run but was caught by Gannon who used a hip toss to take him to the ground.

In surveillance footage of that takedown, a pink SCCY CPX-1 9mm, was seen falling from Reeder’s body. Groves grabbed the pistol and handed it to an officer from Star City to secure it away from Reeder, he said.

That gun and a Taurus PT111 G2c, found by an officer from the University Police Department during a search of Lester’s car, were sent to the West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory for testing.

Seven bullets and seven shell casings were also sent for testing; as were gunshot residue test kits Reeder’s and Linear’s hands. 

Three of the bullets were removed from Smith’s body. Dr. Piotr Kubiczek testified that Smith’s body had eight wounds. One of the wounds was caused by a bullet exiting Smith’s body and reentering it. Kubizek said no specific shot killed Smith — all of the shots contributed to his death through blood loss, shock and organ damage.

The gunshot residue kit from Reeder did not show he had gunshot residue on his hands. Koren Powers, a gunshot residue expert, who works at the WVSP lab, testified that doesn’t mean he didn’t fire a gun — just as gunshot residue on the hands, such as in Linear’s case, doesn’t guarantee a gun was fired by a suspect. It just means they fired a gun, were in close proximity to a firearm discharging, or handled an item with gunshot residue on it. 

Phillip Cochran, who works as a firearms and toolmark examiner in the WVSP lab, tested the seven bullets and fired shell casings and the two pistols that were sent in. He said five of the rounds came from the pink SCCY 9mm while two were fired from the black Taurus. All three of the bullets from Smith’s body came from the pink SCCY, he testified.

In a video from a store on High Street the night of the shooting, Reeder was seen in possession of that pink gun tucked into his waistband. UPD officer Aaron Graves testified about how he collected that footage and footage from College Park.

In the College Park footage, a pink object tucked in Reeder’s right waistband that Graves said was “very reasonable to match the SCCY pistol,” was seen as Reeder left building 21, where Smith was killed, the first time. 

In video footage of Reeder and Linear entering building 21 for a second time about a minute and a half later, Linear was holding a black gun in his right hand with his hood, previously down, up. Reeder was tightening and tying his previously loose hood with both hands and the pink gun is not visible. After entering the first floor hall to apartment 103, where Smith was, Linear and Reeder exited the building 29 seconds later.

Today the defense will present its side of the story. Summers said they intend to call Linear as a witness.

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