Homicide trial starts with battle over ballistics report

Homicide trial starts with battle over ballistics report

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RACINE — Jmontae Bogan was reportedly on his way to Marquette Park to play basketball on July 29, 2014, when a grisly discovery in the backyard of a friend’s Blake Avenue home changed the course of his day.

It was in the yard near the alley that Bogan reportedly stumbled upon the body of 19-year-old Semar A. McClain, dead from a gunshot wound to the head, Bogan testified Monday in Racine Count Circuit Court.

Seeing only the legs and feet of the victim, Bogan at first thought the person was passed out from drinking, he told the court. He soon discovered he was wrong.

“I got closer and that’s when I seen blood,” said Bogan, who appeared in court Monday while in jail custody on an unrelated charge.

Bogan’s testimony was one of three accounts of the crime scene provided by witnesses Monday in the homicide trial of Tommy Canady, the now 17-year-old accused of killing McClain in an armed robbery that July evening and later allegedly bragging about the murder in a rap song he wrote and posted online.

Canady, of the 100 block of Main Street, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and robbery with the use of a dangerous weapon in connection with the crime.

Guns

According to the criminal complaint, Canady and McClain reportedly were observed at 4:35 p.m. that day — less than 30 minutes before McClain’s lifeless body was discovered — in the upper back stairwell of a building in the 800 block of Jackson Street. Canady had a .38-caliber revolver and McClain had a .380 Highpoint semiautomatic handgun, the complaint states, and the two were debating if they were going to trade guns or sell guns.

Canady was arrested a week later after police executed a search warrant at his home and reportedly found both firearms, McClain’s .380 and Canady’s 38, which the State Crime Lab says fit the characteristics of the gun that produced the projectile removed from McClain’s head.

Those guns, and ballistic reports written by a State Crime Lab firearms expert, were a key issue of debate on Monday, the first day of the trial.

The state had submitted ballistic reports to the court — a redacted report and an unredacted one that contained information linking the two guns to two other shootings that reportedly occurred on July 29, 2014. The bullet recovered from a shooting that day on Quincy Avenue shared the characteristics of the .38 allegedly used to kill McClain, the report stated. The bullet recovered from a Green Street shooting reportedly came from a .380, like the handgun McClain had allegedly been looking to unload.

Canady’s attorney, Scott F. Anderson, expressed dismay at the use of the redacted report, while Assistant Racine County District Attorney Rebecca Sommers said the state did not plan on talking about the other shootings during the trial.

Sommers added that bringing them up might create even more problems for the defense, and could implicate Canady in cases in which he hasn’t been charged.

“Once that door gets kicked open, all bets are off,” she said.

The court adjourned in hopes of resolving the issue on Tuesday morning, when the homicide trial continues.

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