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ME, forensics scientists testify in murder trial

KINGWOOD — The second day of the Luis Martinez-Otero, murder trial started with testimony from Dr. Allen Muck, West Virginia’s chief medical examiner.

Martinez is charged with the May 2022 shooting of Zachary Alan Shrout at his home on Veterans Memorial Highway in Terra Alta.

Muck said the bullet that killed Shrout entered through his left eye, damaging the left hemisphere of Shrout’s brain. Muck said the bullet was not a through and through, but he found the bullet fragment in Shrout’s head. Muck also testified that Shrout had taken breaths after being shot.

Brandon Shumaker, attorney for the defense questioned Muck about methamphetamine and fentanyl found in Shrout’s body during the autopsy. He asked what effect the drugs might have had on Shrout.

Muck said he didn’t know what effect high levels of methamphetamine has on each individual. He said it can cause a calming effect or a psychotic effect.

Kayla Lamb, a forensic scientist with the State Police Lab, said her specialty was firearms and tool mark identification. She said she received an ammunition box with four loaded cartridges and nine fired cartridge cases. Lamb said she also received one fired bullet found in a piece of wood and a second fired bullet found during autopsy.

Lamb said she did a microscopic comparison of the fired bullets. She said the fired bullets and casings was similar in design — consistent but not absolute — to the unfired cartridges found in Martinez’s home.

Law enforcement didn’t find the Taurus G2C 9mm gun used in the murder, so the bullets couldn’t be matched to it.

Sarah Machalla, a forensic scientist at the State Police Lab who specializes in trace evidence, said she looked for gunshot residue on Martinez’s clothing, face and hands, and his truck.

She said she found gunshot residue on his clothing and the steering wheel of his truck.

Shumaker said the residue could have been transferred to his client by officers. He then showed a video where a piece of tape from a kit was dropped on the floor by a state trooper gathering evidence in Shrout’s house. The trooper picked it up and put it back in the kit.

Machalla said she didn’t believe it contaminated evidence unless the lifter lid was off and it came in contact with the lifter. The lifter is used to pick up gunshot residue.

Testimony is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. today.