First responders describe New London murder scene as trial begins

Shaquan Lee-Seales, 21, is arraigned on murder charges at Geographical Area 10 Courthouse in New London on June 6, 2016. His trial began Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (Tim Martin/The Day)
Shaquan Lee-Seales, 21, is arraigned on murder charges at Geographical Area 10 Courthouse in New London on June 6, 2016. His trial began Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (Tim Martin/The Day)

New London Police Sgt. Robert Pickett heard a report of shots fired in the Grand Street area minutes before the end of his shift on Dec. 11, 2015.

He ran to his cruiser in the back parking lot of city police headquarters and raced to the scene. Within minutes he would be securing a crime scene and giving out assignments to the officers he supervised.

It was the beginning of a homicide investigation that would last for months.

Pickett, now a lieutenant, and other first responders testified Tuesday as the murder trial of Shaquan Lee-Seales began in New London Superior Court. Lee-Seales is charged with fatally shooting 29-year-old Gilberto Olivencia — not his intended target, police say — near the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Grand Street.

The jury watched video from the dashboard camera of Pickett's cruiser. He explained that he slowed briefly to look at a car driving without its headlights illuminated, thinking perhaps it was a fleeing suspect. Arriving at 8 Grand St., he found a man bleeding from the chest and applied pressure to the wound while fruitlessly trying to elicit information from him. A female who stood in the doorway crying also could not tell him what had happened.

Lee-Seales, 23, allegedly shot into a group of people following an earlier encounter on State Pier Road, where Lee-Seales allegedly had assaulted and robbed a 17-year-old drug dealer who "disrespected" him. He has pleaded not guilty to murder, carrying a pistol without a permit and third-degree robbery.

Over the next two weeks, Prosecutors Paul J. Narducci and Thomas M. DeLillo are expected to introduce some forensic evidence that puts Lee-Seales at the crime scene, including a thumbprint on a pack of Newport cigarettes that was found near the crime scene and phone records. They also plan to elicit testimony from several eyewitnesses to the crime.

Defense attorney Sebastian O. DeSantis will be cross-examining all of the state's witnesses as he tries to cast doubt on the state's theory of the case. It is unclear whether the defense will call witnesses.

On Tuesday, though, Lee-Seales' name was not mentioned on the witness stand as the state set the scene. The jury heard from Patrolman Ryan Griffin, the second officer on scene, who also "rendered aid" to the victim and rode with him to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in the New London Fire Department ambulance. Griffin took possession of Olivencia's clothing so that it could be secured as evidence.

New London firefighter/EMT Phillip Burgess, also on board the ambulance, said he used a gauze trauma dressing to try to slow Olivencia's bleeding and placed a breathing mask on his face. Olivencia was not conscious when he arrived, Burgess said, and he "never improved" as he was delivered to the hospital.

Burgess said the medical crew cut off Olivencia's clothing and treated a second gunshot wound they found on his back. The medical examiner would later determine that the fatal gunshot entered into Olivencia's back and exited his right upper chest.

Police said they found six spent shell casings from a 9 mm handgun scattered on the south corner of Grand Street and Connecticut Avenue. One projectile traveled the length of Grand Street and was recovered from an inside wall of a 42 Jefferson Ave. residence. Patrolman Joseph Kondash testified that he used a police dog to track a scent from the intersection through several city streets. The track ended near Williams Street, where two other officers had detained a man for questioning.

Retired state police Detective David Lamoureux donned rubber gloves, cut into paper evidence bags and pulled out to display to the jury the victim's red thermal shirt and gray fleece jacket. Lamoureux explained that the Eastern District Major Crime Squad's role was to assist city police by processing the crime scene for evidence. The squad produced a video, still camera photos and sketch maps of the scene, collected and packaged evidence and conducted a survey of the victim's body.

When the trial resumes Wednesday, crime squad Detective Jeffrey Payette will narrate a 20-minute video he took of the crime scene.

k.florin@theday.com

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