The Arkansas Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled that Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis was correct when she excluded some ballistic evidence during the trial of a man involved in a shooting incident in 2011 outside the Three Gables Nightclub in Pine Bluff.
After a jury trial, Maurice Cosen was found guilty of two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of terroristic threatening and sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison.
Before the trial began, prosecutors asked Dennis to exclude any evidence relating to shell casings and related ballistic evidence collected during a subsequent crime scene investigation of a shooting at the Three Gables about three weeks after the incident involving Cosen on March 19, 2011. Prosecutors acknowledged that the shell casings recovered from the scene matched those collected during the incident involving Cosen.
The defense contended that the gun and shell casings were not connected to Cosen, but to another man. Prosecutors argued successfully that because other people had the gun did not mean that Cosen didn’t have it on March 19 when the shooting occurred, and that unless Cosen was trying to blame the other man, the ballistic evidence should not be admitted.
During the trial, Crime Scene Technician Cathy Ruhl testified that she found five expended shell casings after responding to the March 19 incident, and the Arkansas Crime Laboratory report showed that all five were fired from the same weapon. Ruhl also testified that no weapon was recovered.
Writing for the Appeals Court, Judge David M. Glover said Dennis allowed Ruhl to testify that no gun was found in the incident, and that there was no evidence found that associated the shell casings found to Cosen.
What was excluded was evidence that a second set of shell casings and a gun were located after a second shooting and were found in the possession of the other man.
Glover said in the court ruling that Cosen presented no evidence to connect the other man to the incident Cosen was charged in and there was no testimony presented that the other man was present at the club or on the parking lot on the night of the incident.
“The fact that (the other man) had the gun in his possession three weeks later in a subsequent shooting, without more to connect (the other man) with the March 19 incident does not convince us that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to allow this evidence to be admitted in Cosen’s trial,” Glover said in the court decision.