Attorneys for the state and for accused killer Evan J. Holmes presented a jury with two versions of the events of Nov. 12, 2011, during closing arguments Thursday in New London Superior Court.
Prosecutors Paul J. Narducci and Sarah W. Bowman allege that Holmes, 22, and Davion Smith, 20, forced their way into the third-floor apartment at 252 Montauk Ave., New London, at about 4 a.m. that day and that Holmes stood at the foot of 25-year-old Jorge “Loco” Rosa’s bed and shot him 10 times with a .40-caliber pistol.
Defense attorney William T. Koch Jr. alleges that Holmes was framed by the state’s key witness, his ex-girlfriend Gabriela Gonzalez.
Family and friends of Holmes and Rosa and city and state police detectives who had investigated the case filled nearly every bench in the courtroom for the closing arguments, which came at the end of eight days of testimony.
The jury, which will begin deliberating sometime today, is likely to hone in on Gonzalez’s testimony. On the witness stand last week, she testified that Holmes was her first boyfriend and that she broke up with him while he was in prison. She said she started dating Rosa about three months before the shooting.
Gonzalez testified that she woke up that morning to see Holmes and Smith standing at the foot of the bed with guns. She said Holmes shot Rosa and Smith left the room. She said Holmes turned the gun on her and shook his head before walking out. Rosa died a short time later of multiple gunshot wounds.
“It was a hot situation for this defendant, who was known on the street as ‘Hot Boy,’” Bowman argued.
According to testimony, Holmes was bleeding from the hand and mouth after having been jumped about a half-hour earlier by Rosa’s roommate Todd “T.O.” Silva outside the now-shuttered WildStyle Riders Motorcycle Club on South Water Street.
Holmes had been released from prison eight days earlier, after serving an 18-month sentence for an unrelated shooting.
Keyed up and with his honor bruised, Bowman said Holmes entered Rosa’s bedroom and shot him. She used all of her fingers to count out the number of gunshots.
During the first seven days of the trial, the state’s attorneys called 20 witnesses, including police, forensic examiners and civilians, and placed more than 200 items into evidence. A DNA expert had testified that Holmes’ DNA was found in blood drops on the bed comforter and in smears left on the stairway, walls and floor.
Bowman called Holmes’ version of the events “a carefully created fiction.” On Wednesday, Holmes had taken the witness stand and presented an alternate scenario. He said he, Zachary Perkins and Smith and went to the apartment because they had been told Silva wanted to talk to them.
Holmes said Perkins went into the apartment before he and Smith entered and left after them. Holmes said he briefly entered Rosa’s bedroom but left when he was told Silva was not there. He testified that he did not hear any gunshots.
In his summation to the jury, Holmes’ attorney, Koch, admitted he had a “hard argument” to make.
“You are going to have to come to a determination that a 22-year-old girl, Ms. Gonzalez, is framing him (Holmes),” Koch said. “Because that’s what she did.”
Koch said Gonzalez was protecting Perkins, who impregnated her within weeks after the shooting. She gave birth in September 2012. Koch suggested that Gonzalez, who had gunshot residue on her hands following the shooting, was standing behind Perkins when Perkins shot Rosa.
Perkins has not been charged in connection with the case and notified court officials through his attorney that he would exercise his right to remain silent if called on to testify.
Koch suggested also that Gonzalez was jealous because Holmes had started dating another woman, Shanice Sebastian, who was with him when he was arrested at the Days Inn in Old Saybrook within hours of the shooting. Koch said, “Hell hath no fury like a person scorned.”
Holmes’ co-defendant, Smith, was not arrested until March 2012. Called by the defense Thursday, New London Police Detective Keith Crandall testified that he and other officers went to Perkins’ home in Norwich in February 2012 because they heard Smith might be hiding out there. They found Gonzalez there, Crandall said.
“We had heard Zach (Perkins) was good friends with Davion,” Crandall testified. “We thought it could be dangerous if Davion were in the apartment.”
They asked Gonzalez if she was afraid. “She did not seem concerned,” Crandall testified.
The defense had also called on Peter Valentin, a former state trooper and University of New Haven lecturer in forensics, who had produced a three-dimensional animation of the crime scene based on photos, statements and other evidence, and opined that Gonzalez could not have been in the bed when Rosa was shot.