Last Modified: Thursday, May 10, 2012 10:34 AM
Closing arguments are expected to begin today in the second-degree murder trial of Robyn Little Davis and Carol Noland Saltzman.
Davis and Saltzman are accused of shooting death of Davis’ husband, Brian. His body was found on Wagon Wheel Lane on July 1, 2009.
Defense attorneys rested their case Wednesday afternoon after jurors heard testimony from a communications expert who criticized the findings of a cell phone site analysis expert retained by the state.
On Tuesday, FBI Special Agent William Shute told jurors that he could place Davis’ and Saltzman’s cell phones in the area of the crime scene around the time Brian Davis was killed based on call detail records from June 29, 2009.
The defense called communications expert John Minor, who told jurors Shute’s analysis of the records and interpretation of the cell site data were “biased.”
Minor said determining the location of a cell phone using cell sector data is not quite as clear cut as Shute suggested.
He said the mapped depictions of cell coverage Shute showed jurors were not accurate because they did not show how far the sectors actually extend. Most cell sites are designed to overlap, which increases the size of the area from which a person’s phone could select a certain sector on a cell site.
Minor also called Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Mark Broussard’s attempt to reconstruct the cell network as ”half-baked.”
Using Shute’s methodology, Minor said it would be very easy to misconstrue data to make it support a hypothesis. Shute said that before analyzing the records, investigators did discuss the facts of the case with him.
On Tuesday, Shute said he could place Robyn Davis within a half mile to five miles from the crime scene, but Minor said that, accounting for cell sector overlap, that range could have extended much further.
During prosecutor Cynthia Killingsworth’s cross examination, Minor said he tries to be a neutral expert without showing bias to either side.
When asked about his critique of Shute’s findings, Minor said he “doesn’t know if he (Shute) was intentionally skewing data or just lacked adequate knowledge of cell networks.”
Killingsworth also attacked his credentials as an expert, pointing out that he had no college education. Minor said all of his knowledge comes from years of experience in the technical working of communications industries.
Glen Vamvoras, counsel for Davis, recalled lead detective Brent Young and asked why he didn’t follow up on a call made to Crimestoppers the day after Davis’ body was found.
Vamvoras showed Young a copy of the Crimestoppers report, which said a caller said he saw a red truck parked on Wagon Wheel Lane the day before Davis’ body was discovered.
Young said investigators were following up on other leads and did not contact the caller to get any further information.
The caller to Crimestoppers, John Bloxom, testified that he placed the call after he saw a body had been discovered. Bloxom told jurors he saw the truck in the distance and the doors were open.
He said no investigator ever contacted him regarding the call until Vamvoras, who called him shortly before the trial began.
Jurors also heard the testimony of a Department of Transportation worker who maintains records of when the pontoon bridge on Big Lake Road was closed on June 29, 2009. Defense attorneys introduced the records on Tuesday, claiming the bridge was up and closed to traffic for nearly 20 minutes when Robyn and Brian Davis were, as the state claims, headed to the crime scene. Defense counsel claims this fact throws off the state’s timeline of the events leading up to the slaying.
The final defense witness was local attorney David Dwight, who said he represents Brian Davis’ family in some civil matters related to this case.
Vamvoras pointed out that Dwight is also counsel for the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office and other government agencies. Dwight also said that prosecutor Rick Bryant rents office space in his firm’s building.
During cross examination from Bryant, Dwight said Bryant seldom used the office. Dwight also said he was not sure why he had been called to testify in the criminal trial.
When he defense rested, Bryant said he did not wish to call any rebuttal witnesses.
Judge David Ritchie said attorneys will give closing arguments today beginning at 9 a.m., and the jurors will be sent to deliberate.
In order for a verdict to be reached, 10 out of the 12 jurors must agree on a verdict. If convicted of second-degree murder, Davis and Saltzman face a mandatory penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.