Cellphone technology helped in murder probe

New London police used cellphone technology to apprehend Evan T. Holmes within hours of the shooting death of Jorge Rosa two years ago and later analyzed his phone calls and text messages for use in his prosecution.

Holmes, 22, is on trial in New London Superior Court for allegedly forcing his way into a third-floor apartment at 252 Montauk Ave. in New London on Nov. 12, 2011, and fatally shooting 25-year-old Jorge "Loco" Rosa in his bed. He has pleaded not guilty to home invasion, murder, felony murder, burglary and weapons charges.

On Friday, the fifth day of his trial, city police Detective Richard Curcuro testified that he contacted T-Mobile, the cellphone provider for Holmes and his alleged accomplice, Davion Smith, after Rosa's girlfriend identified them as the gunmen. Curcuro, tasked with helping locate the two suspects, said he provided their cellphone numbers to T-Mobile's law enforcement support staff and asked them to assist the police with "an exigent circumstance," or emergency.

The phone company notified police that Holmes' cellphone had "pinged" in the Old Saybrook area, and local police found Holmes' car at the Days Inn on Boston Post Road. Police arrested Holmes at gunpoint and took his companion, Shanice Sebastian, in for questioning. Police seized Sebastian's phone and later obtained a search-and-seizure warrant to extract the information it contained.

Detective Keith Crandall testified that he used a Universal Forensic Extraction Device, or UFED, which he said "basically sucks the information off your phone" and puts it into a file that can be used by police. Crandall said he was able to isolate Sebastian's phone activity for the 12-hour period before and after the 4 a.m. homicide.

Sebastian testified Thursday that Holmes picked her up at a friend's house about 4:30 a.m. and drove her to the Days Inn. The phone records indicated Sebastian exchanged phone calls and text messages with Holmes beginning at 4:31 a.m. At 9 a.m., she exchanged texts with a relative of Holmes', who told her, "Come home with Evan," Crandall testified. Sebastian responded "He's not going to go. He's scared (expletive)."

Also testifying Friday was Detective Frank Jarvis, who interviewed the young woman who was in bed with Rosa when he was killed. Jarvis said that about an hour after the shooting, Gabriela Gonzalez was crying and distressed when he began to question her at the police station. He said he did not immediately tell Gonzales that Rosa was dead because he needed to get information from her.

"I was under the impression that if I were to tell her he had died, emotionally she might just shut down," Jarvis testified.

Also Friday, Ryan Johnson, a friend of Rosa's, testified that he spent several hours with Rosa and Gonzalez, who picked him up in Norwich. Johnson said he returned with them to the Montauk Avenue apartment about 1 a.m., where he and Rosa smoked marijuana before Rosa and Gonzalez went to bed. Johnson said he arranged for a ride.

"I take it you were very high when you left the apartment?" defense attorney William T. Koch Jr. asked Johnson on cross-examination. "Yes," he responded.

k.florin@theday.com

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