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Trooper testifies about gun, shell casings

Published November 16. 2019 06:11AM

How many shots were fired, and where were they fired? In the street, in the driveway or inside the garage?

Day three of the murder trial of Eric Mumaw, 32, of Kline Township, continued Friday in Schuylkill County court, with Judge Charles Miller presiding.

Mumaw on trial in the shooting death of 27-year-old David G. Gombert of Beaver Meadows, during an incident at his home Nov.1, 2016. Testimony is expected to continue throughout next week.

Mumaw is charged with first- and third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, prohibited offensive weapons, possessing an instrument of crime, simple and aggravated assault, terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

In an interview with State Police Trooper Eric Schaeffer the day of the shooting, Mumaw described a physical fight taking place inside his garage, with the two men struggling for control of the gun and a shot being fired, hitting Gombert in the chest, according to Schaeffer’s testimony Thursday.

Also during the incident, a shot took off the end of Mumaw’s left hand ring finger.

But according to Pennsylvania State Police Corporal David Dupree’s testimony Friday, four shell casings were found: two on pavement outside the residence, including one near the feet of Gombert’s body; one inside the garage against a wall, and one still stuck in the handgun, which had malfunctioned. Also, one bullet had gone through a garage door, lodging in the taillight of a vehicle parked inside.

Dupree, a state police trooper for 25 years, including 13 years in the forensic services units, testified about other evidence he investigated at the scene, which included blood evidence, a piece of a fingernail, purple clothing fibers and the handgun used in the shooting.

The magazine for the handgun was held in place by three thick rubber bands — Dupree said that without the rubber bands, the magazine (or clip) would not stay in the gun. There were eight live rounds remaining in the magazine.

The garage has three doors. Blood and a piece of fingernail were found outside the garage door furthest to the left, Dupree testified.

A puddle of blood and a smeary blood drag mark were inside the garage, inside the same door. Blood droplets were found on top of the drag mark.

Blood from Gombert’s body, which was on the pavement outside the middle garage door, had bled from his body and collected in a puddle below his feet. Mumaw’s eyeglasses were found near Gombert’s feet. An additional blood spot was found in the driveway, about 16 feet from the residence.

Images from the evidence collection were displayed for the jury on an overhead screen. Dupree did not identify the source of the blood — whether it was from Mumaw or Gombert at the various locations.

Dupree also investigated images retrieved from Mumaw’s cellphone, adding to a timeline established by previous testimony. Mumaw’s call to 911 was received just before 9:10 a.m. However, according to the date and time stamps from his cellphone images, from 9:06 a.m. to 9:07 a.m., Mumaw took 10 pictures of Gombert’s body — both face down and face up — and after calling 911, took two additional pictures at 9:12 a.m. McAdoo Police arrived at 9:14.

On cross examination, Kapsock asked Dupree, who was present during Gombert’s autopsy, to give details about tattoos the deceased had. Dupree read the information from his report. One tattoo, on Gombert’s chest said, “He who makes a beast of himself, gets rid of the pain of being a man.” Another tattoo read, “Eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, blood for blood.”

Other testimony

• Retired Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Eric Reber, who worked for the PSP doing forensic mapping of crime scenes. Reber used a machine called The Total Station, which is accurate to an eighth of an inch.

The distance from Mumaw’s residence to Gombert’s vehicle — which was left running — was 38 feet. A blood spot found on the pavement was about 16 feet from the residence. From the blood puddle inside the garage to the Gombert’s body was nearly 17 feet.

• Schuylkill County Deputy Coroner Louis D. Truskowsky, who pronounced Gombert deceased at 9:52 a.m.

Pathologist Richard Bindie, who performed the autopsy at Reading Hospital. Bindie described being “at a loss” as to what had caused the blunt force trauma to Gombert’s mouth. He testified that he later learned that brass knuckles had been retrieved by state police from Mumaw’s shoe. Bindie described “extensive damage” inside Gombert’s mouth, including fractures to the jawbone, gums and sinus bones. Bindie said that trauma alone could have caused someone’s death.

“There would have been a lot of bleeding and aspiration into the lungs, causing respiratory distress,” Bindie testified. “The brass knuckles would compound the force.” Bindie shook a fist, saying “Quite a punch.”

Bindie also described Gombert’s chest wound as having “sooting” which meant that “the entrance wound from contact or near contact.” He said the cause of death was the gunshot wound, with a secondary cause the blunt force trauma to the face, and the manner of death, homicide.

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