Gun residue on hand of shooting suspect, expert testifies in court

Published 11:04 am Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Vicksburg man on trial for a drive-by shooting had gunshot residue on his hands the night of the shooting and shell casings found at the scene were fired from his gun, experts testified Tuesday as the state wrapped up its case.

Tests revealed that Eric Wallace, 31, 7160 Warriors Trail, had the residue on the back of his left hand about 3:30 a.m. Aug. 19, 2011, Chad Suggs of the Mississippi Crime Laboratory testified.

Wallace is accused of shooting into a home at 1708 Jackson St. about 1:30 a.m. that day, according to court records. No one was injured in the shooting.

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In order to get the residue on his hand, Wallace would had to have fired a gun, be within 3 or 4 feet of gunfire or handle a weapon with residue on it, Suggs said.

When Wallace was stopped by police for driving 93 mph on Interstate 20 shortly after the shooting, he voluntarily surrendered his gun to police, several officers testified Tuesday. Wallace is confined to a wheelchair because he was paralyzed in a 2006 drive-by shooting, and uses a pool cue to operate the pedals of his truck, police and friends testified.

Wallace’s attorney James “Buck” Penley Jr. contended the residue could have been transferred from his gun, which he had fired earlier, or from shaking hands with someone earlier in the night.

Suggs said both scenarios were possible but highly unlikely.

“Anything that you do with your hands disrupts the particles,” Suggs said.

Because Wallace must use his hands to manipulate the pedals of his vehicle, the residue would be wiped away faster, Assistant District Attorney Lane Campbell said in Circuit Court Judge M. James Chaney’s courtroom.

Six shell casings found in front of the Jackson Street home were fired by the .40-caliber Smith and Wesson Wallace gave to police, Tommy Bishop of the crime lab testified.

Markings that guns — even those assembled in succession — leave on shell casings are unique, Bishop said.

“They are like fingerprints,” Bishop said. “No two are the same.”

The prosecution rested at about 3 p.m. Tuesday after calling several neighbors, officers and experts. The defense called two witnesses, both of whom said Wallace was eating chicken wings in the parking lot of LD’s on Mulberry Street before the shooting.

Jeffery Lewis, who was a passenger in Wallace’s truck the night of the shooting, testified they had gone to Kings to meet Wallace’s brother at the time of the shooting. Lewis said he never saw Wallace fire a gun that night.

Wallace has been held without bail in the Warren County Jail since his arrest May 30 in a drive-by shooting at LD’s, but that case will not go to trial until February, District Attorney Ricky Smith said. Wallace also faces charges related to a drive-by shooting on April 11, 2011, in which he is accused of shooting at two women walking near Eastover Apartments on Baldwin Ferry Road. No date has been set for that trial.