Victim’s Blood Found on Gun Recovered from Defendant

Baltimore Courthouse

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Testimony continued in Vincent Harris‘ murder trial after a lunch recess Aug. 18, with the jurors hearing about forensic evidence before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Jennifer B. Schiffer

The medical examiner told the jury about gunpowder stippling around the entrance wound on 37-year-old Jacob Coates’ chest, meaning the gun was very close to him when it was fired. 

The examiner said Coates had a list of drugs in his system when he died, but the cause of death was the injuries sustained from his singular gunshot wound. 

The prosecutor took an interest in the gunpowder stippling because it possibly matched a detail found by police officers tying the defendant’s gun to the crime. Officers who testified said they found a shell casing stuck in the gun, which is possible evidence of a mechanical error because the gun was pressed into a person. 

The possibility that the gun was pressed into the victim could also explain the blood officers found on the trigger and handle of the gun recovered from Harris’ waistband shortly after the crime. The blood on the gun was confirmed to be Coates’ after a DNA analysis was conducted by the Baltimore Police Department. 

Coates’ wife, who was the prosecution’s only witness, testified on Aug. 19. She said she stayed at a random man’s apartment the night before the crime without her husband because the couple was homeless. The next day the couple met back up, but she had forgotten her phone and went back to the apartment to search for it. 

Coates wife said they arrived at the apartment complex, three men approached them, and after some searching everyone went back outside. The victim’s wife said she gave him $20 to buy drugs from the men. She was sent as a lookout for police before an argument broke out, and she turned to see two men holding Coates’ shoulders before the third man shot him. 

Coates’ wife said the shooter came up to her, put the gun in her face and told her to stop screaming or he’d kill her too. She said she ran away and called the police at a safer location. 

Harris’ defense attorney, Josh Insley, didn’t have many questions or exhibits, but did press Coates’ wife on one issue; asking her if she ever identified the persons responsible for the crime. 

Insley provided a photo array containing a picture of Harris that had been given to Coates’ wife as part of the investigation. He noted she didn’t identify Harris in the photo array. She didn’t identify him while on the stand either. 

Harris’ trial is set to continue with closing arguments after lunch on Aug. 19.

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