A second state’s expert claims no ballistic match in freeway shootings

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A second expert for prosecutors said that was no ballistics match in the I-10 shootings case to Leslie Merritt Jr.'s gun. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) A second expert for prosecutors said that was no ballistics match in the I-10 shootings case to Leslie Merritt Jr.'s gun. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
DPS has consistently said that Merritt is still the subject of their investigation into the freeway shootings. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) DPS has consistently said that Merritt is still the subject of their investigation into the freeway shootings. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
The second expert concluded that there was nothing that suggested that the bullets recovered by investigators were fired by Merritt’s gun. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) The second expert concluded that there was nothing that suggested that the bullets recovered by investigators were fired by Merritt’s gun. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A never-before-released report shows there was not one but two independent firearms experts that examined the ballistic evidence from the I-10 freeway shooting investigation and came to the same conclusion: the Department of Public Safety crime lab got it wrong.

A “Report of Examination” by John E. Murdock & Associates Forensic Consultants, based in California, was attached to a motion filed by attorneys for Leslie Merritt Jr., the one-time freeway shooting suspect.

When Merritt was arrested, DPS investigators said their lab matched bullets and bullet fragments from four separate freeway shooting scenes to each other and they all were determined to have been fired from Merritt’s 9mm gun.

[Special section: Phoenix freeway shootings]

As prosecutors prepared for trial, they had their own forensics expert re-test the bullets against Merritt's gun. The results found by ballistic expert Lucien Haag were damning - but not in the way authorities hoped.

Haag found the DPS crime lab came to a faulty conclusion, noting the bullets "could neither be excluded or identified" as having come from Merritt's gun.

[RELATED: Newly unsealed documents released in the freeway shooting case]

Now, it has come to light that a second independent forensic expert, also reporting to prosecutors, examined the evidence bullets and did various comparison tests to the re-test bullet firing by Haag and concluded that there was nothing that suggested that the bullets recovered by investigators were fired by Merritt’s gun.

[RELATED: New tests lead to Phoenix freeway shooting case's undoing]

Merritt’s attorney, Jason Lamm, said Tuesday this proves the point he’s been making from the beginning.  

 “It tells us what we've said all along, that Leslie Merritt never has been the I-10 freeway shooter,” said Lamm.

[RELATED: Former freeway shootings suspect sues state, county]

The report went on to say that Murdock’s comparisons found no significant agreement that the evidence bullets all came from the same gun. However, that cannot be ruled out either, because the type of 9mm pistol Merritt owned does not consistently reproduce identifiable markings.

DPS has consistently said that Merritt is still the subject of their investigation into the freeway shootings. They did not return inquiries into this latest development.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has said in the past that if the time came when Merritt was no longer a suspect in the case, he would announce it. A spokeswoman for his office on Tuesday said, nothing had changed.

“If there was a circumstance for the county attorney to say that Leslie is no longer a suspect in any of the shootings, now is the time,” said Lamm. 

Statement from DPS:

"The case is still in the hands of the county attorney and so therefore we will continue to refrain from commenting except that We stand by the work done by the department’s laboratory and its employees."
 

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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