Forensics experts: No DNA or fingerprint evidence IDs gunman
OGDEN — Forensic experts testified Friday why they found no definitive fingerprint or DNA evidence to tie murder suspect Keshaun Puente or any other person to the shooting death of Denero Snider.
Sandra Grogan of the Weber Metro Crime Scene Unit said examiners did not check for fingerprints on bullet casings found at the June 13, 2018, shooting scene in Ogden. She said the small size of bullet casings makes it difficult to get good prints from them. “You have to pick fingerprints or DNA on such a small item,” she said.
The casings were sent to the Utah State Crime Lab for DNA analysis.
Puente, 24, is charged with first-degree murder. Charging documents allege Puente argued with Snider, shot him four times and fled to Nevada with his girlfriend. The defense asserts the shooter was not Puente and they point out that no witnesses could identify Puente in a police photo lineup.
Asked about a witness report that the shooter pushed Snider on the chest before stepping back and shooting him, Grogan said Snider’s shirt was not checked for prints. That was because fabric surfaces do not produce retrievable fingerprints, she said.
CSI examiners also could not retrieve prints from the car that prosecutors allege Puente drove to North Las Vegas, Grogan said. Someone apparently had wiped down the interior of the car, as evidenced by a white film on the interior surfaces, she said.
Under questioning by defense attorney Grant Morrison, Grogan said she had no idea what the white substance was or who may have wiped down the car.
Adam Yankee, a senior forensic scientist at the state crime lab, testified he was unable to retrieve an identifiable DNA sample from the shell casings. With multiple people having handled the cartridges, DNA possibly pointing to one person cannot be isolated “because the sample is too convoluted to tweeze it apart,” Yankee said.
He said nothing confirmed Puente touched the bullets but nothing excluded him, either.
The lab did not analyze Snider’s blood-soaked shirt for DNA, Yankee said. After watching a video of people doing CPR on Snider and trying to stanch blood flow from his body with their own shirts, Yankee said he believed there would be too much combined DNA to allow a meaningful analysis.
Jurors also heard a detailed report from an assistant state medical examiner, Dr. Mike Belenky, about the damage done by the four .40 caliber bullets that hit Snider.
Belenky said two shots hit Snider in the upper chest, each perforating a lung and breaking ribs. One of those bullets also hit his liver and diaphragm.
The other two shots struck Snider’s abdomen, penetrating his bowels, the pathologist said.
Three bullets passed through Snider’s body and the fourth lodged in his hip.
Belenky said any one of the shots could have been fatal.
Morrison objected to the “shock value” he said resulted from the breadth of the prosecution’s questioning and the volume of autopsy exhibits submitted, but Judge Jennifer Valencia overruled the protest.
Puente’s trial continues next week in 2nd District Court.