Microscopic particles inside jeans worn by a Colorado Springs shooting victim drew scrutiny in court Monday as defense attorneys began putting on their case at El Paso County's first death-penalty trial in a decade.
Attorneys for Glen Law Galloway, 46, say the presence of gunshot residue between Marcus Anderson's pants and underwear is proof that Anderson drew a pistol from his waistband and threatened to shoot Galloway during a May 2016 confrontation - forcing the defendant to wrestle the gun away from Anderson and shoot him in self-defense.
Galloway faces a potential death penalty in back-to-back shootings that also targeted his ex-girlfriend, Janice Nam. The defense says Galloway "snapped" after the fight with Anderson, leading him to sneak into Nam's home in a state of "emotional despair" and shoot her twice in the head as she lay in bed.
A defense forensics expert testified that three of five samples from Anderson's pants submitted for testing were positive for particles containing lead, barium and antimony.
Those elements are generally found together only as a result of a gun firing, said Allison Laneve, a criminal forensics analyst at RJ Lee Group in Monroeville, Penn., a testing firm hired to analyze Anderson's clothing.
While it's unsurprising for gunshot residue to be found on fabric exposed to a shooting, the defense maintains that particles wouldn't have gotten inside Anderson's pants or on the outside of his underwear unless he had a gun in his waistband, as Galloway alleges.
During cross-examination of Laneve and other defense witnesses, prosecutor Reggy Short suggested the gunshot residue could have been the result of cross-contamination from multiple people handling the garment. Before a defense investigator took samples of the pants to send for analysis, the pants had been handled by an expert who performed a body fluid analysis and by investigators during evidence viewings by the defense and prosecution, Short noted through questioning.
Laneve said the residue suggests three possibilities: Anderson either fired a gun, was in the presence of a gun being fired or handled an object that contained gunshot residue. A gun in Anderson's waistband was one possible source of the particles, but so was cross-contamination, she said.
During opening statements last month, Galloway's attorneys identified Anderson, 57, as a homeless methamphetamine addict who agreed to help Galloway escape Colorado Springs after his conviction for stalking his ex-girlfriend.
They say Anderson was supposed to drive Galloway to the Mexico border before he could be sentenced to prison. Before they left Colorado Springs, however, Galloway discovered his pistol missing and recognized it jutting from Anderson's waistband as the men were stopped at a self-storage unit, where Anderson wanted to retrieve meth-making materials, according to their account. The trauma of that shooting led to a mental break in which Galloway killed Nam 10 hours later, they said.
Authorities have dismissed claims of self-defense and say Galloway was willing to do anything to get his revenge against Nam after their two-year relationship gave way to allegations of domestic violence. They say Galloway killed Anderson to secure his silence and his pickup, which the defendant used to drive to Nam's neighborhood before entering her house.
Gunshot residue particles are a fraction of the width of a human hair and can be transferred through physical contact, experts have testified. A judge must rule whether the particles constitute a "scintilla of evidence" corroborating Galloway's self-defense claim. If so, then prosecutors will have the burden of disproving the self-defense argument under Colorado law.
The testimony came on a day that several witnesses for the defense said Anderson wasn't a violent man, even when using meth.
Another defense witness, Mitchell Censner, said Galloway didn't use drugs but seemed fixated on Nam.
"If I had my .357, I'd go kill the b-- now," Censner said Galloway told him in the weeks before the killings.
The defense case is expected to resume Tuesday and conclude by next Monday.
If Galloway is convicted, the panel then must decide whether to impose a life sentence in prison or the death penalty, in a process that could take weeks.