Bedroom witness to New London fatal shooting still to be heard

The young woman who was in bed with Jorge "Loco" Rosa when two men allegedly forced their way into his New London apartment and shot him dead in November 2011 is expected to be the state's final witness next month when a hearing resumes in the murder case of Davion Smith.

Gabriela Gonzales, 19, had been the subject of testimony on the first two days of the probable cause hearing, but Judge Susan B. Handy has not yet heard Gonzales' firsthand version of the incident. The judge is listening to testimony to determine if there is enough evidence, or "probable cause," to prosecute Smith for murder.

The 19-year-old New London man and 21-year-old Evan J. Holmes are charged with murder, home invasion and first-degree burglary. They are accused of breaking into Rosa's third-floor apartment at 252 Montauk Ave. on Nov. 12, 2011.

Prosecutor Paul J. Narducci said Gonzales is expected to testify when the probable cause hearing resumes on Oct. 18.

On Thursday, at the second installment of the hearing, New London police Officer Melissa Schafranski described her encounter with Gonzales, Rosa's girlfriend of about five months, in the back stairwell of the apartment in the minutes after the shooting. Gonzales, who was "extremely upset," was initially vague about the two men who had confronted her and Rosa in bed, according to Schafranski.

When Officer Benjamin Burbank overheard the conversation and mentioned that Rosa's injuries were severe and he probably wouldn't be able to speak for himself, Gonzales identified her ex-boyfriend, Holmes, and Smith as the shooters.

Schafranski testified that Gonzales said she and Rosa had fallen asleep watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" on TV. Gonzales said she woke up to hear Holmes' voice and saw Holmes and Smith with black handguns before hearing three or four shots. Gonzales said Rosa, who was covered in blood, fell on the floor, and she called 911.

Also testifying was Detective Keith Hoyt of the state police Eastern District Major Crime Squad, who processed the crime scene with other squad members. Hoyt described the bloody crime scene and said the detectives found 10 shell casings from a .40 caliber handgun and nine projectiles, some in fragments, in the bedroom. The police could not initially determine whether the casings came from one gun or two; the state's crime laboratory will render an opinion after examining the casings.

Jennifer Verde, a friend of Rosa's, testified that a short time before the shooting, she had seen Holmes bleeding from the face after a fight at the Wild Style Riders Clubhouse on South Water Street in the city's downtown. Holmes allegedly fought that night with Rosa's roommate, Todd "T.O." Silva. Verde said Holmes, Smith and others left the club in a black Infiniti.

Holmes was driving a white Crown Victoria when he was arrested in Old Saybrook a few hours after the shooting.

Noting that Rosa's young daughter "never wanted for anything," and that Rosa was unemployed, defense attorney Jeremiah Donovan questioned Verde about Rosa's occupation. The prosecutor objected, and the judge allowed only limited questions on the topic.

Verde said she had no idea how Rosa made money.

"There's an alternative theory as to how he was killed," said Donovan. "He was a drug dealer and maybe he was on the wrong side of a drug deal."

k.florin@theday.com

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