Updated: February 21, 2014 at 6:07 am
Police testing found no definitive link between guns belonging to sniper suspect Bruce J. Nozolino and four shootings in which he has been charged.
Two firearms examiners testified Thursday that while some of the weapons belonging to the former Lockheed Martin contractor couldn't be excluded, the quality of bullet fragments recovered after the shootings was too poor for a conclusive match.
Among the weapons in the "inconclusive" category were two newly discovered rifles that police tracked down and tested while the trial was in progress - an anticlimactic outcome in what previously registered as a bombshell announcement.
Thursday's disclosures mean that when Nozolino's defense attorneys put on their case, they will combat a largely circumstantial case - one packing nearly two months' worth of damaging disclosures about what a judge called Nozolino's "obsession" with players in his contentious divorce but none of the forensic evidence considered a "smoking gun" in murder prosecutions, such as DNA, fingerprints or a ballistic match to guns he owned. The prosecution is expected to conclude early Friday.
A jailhouse informant testified earlier in the trial that Nozolino admitted he was guilty and gloated that none of the evidence against him would be found because he had gotten rid of it.
One of the firearms examiners, Stefanie Watkins, told jurors Thursday that fragments recovered from a 2008 homicide victim and from earlier shootings involving a divorce lawyer and a judge were likely .22 caliber.
No shell casings were recovered from any of the shootings, preventing police from learning what type of cartridge was used, she said.
The broad class of rounds that could have been used in the shootings includes .223, .22-250 and others, Watkins said.
The other firearms examiner, Cordell Brown, said he believed that divorce lawyer John Ciccolella was partially blinded by a .223 round.
Brown said he prepared a list of 11 possible gun manufacturers that would have left markings like those found on the fragment.
The gun experts said bullet fragments were badly damaged and that Nozolino owned match-grade rifles that imparted fewer markings on bullets than would be seen in lower quality weapons.
The jury has heard previous testimony that Nozolino favored small-caliber rounds, especially .223, which is used often in target shooting. He also owned guns with interchangeable barrels and that could be converted to fire different rounds.
Nozolino's gun collection has been estimated at 20 to 30 guns according to various accounts.
Testimony showed he divided the weapons among his friends and associates during periods when police were tracking them down to be tested.
The trial is expected to continue at 8:30 a.m. Friday.