MANCHESTER - The defense attorney for Myles Webster, the man on trial for the attempted murder of Manchester Police Officer Daniel Doherty, told jurors in Hillsborough County Superior Court North Tuesday that her client's arrest was a case of mistaken identity.
Caroline Smith said there is no DNA or fingerprint evidence showing Webster, 23, was the man who fired 14 bullets at Doherty at the corner of Wayne and Rimmon streets March 21. She said police didn't even test his hands for gunpowder residue.
In her opening argument, Smith said police wanted to believe they had the man who shot Doherty and conducted their investigation in such a way as to make sure Webster was convicted.
Smith said there is nothing to connect Webster to the person who shot Doherty, who sustained wounds to the legs and lower torso that still keep him from active duty.
Smith said the quick release of Webster's booking photo and name affected the witness-identification process, which was further compromised because no one was shown a photo array or photo lineup that included Webster.
She said the release of Webster's booking photo contaminated the witness pool. Webster is also charged with reckless conduct for firing a gun out a car window on Granite Street not long before the foot chase that ended in Doherty's wounding and for firing a gun into the building at the corner of Wayne and Rimmon streets. He also faces robbery and resisting arrest charges.
Senior Assistance Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin told jurors that Webster practically confessed.
He said after Webster was arrested and chased down in a Putnam Street back yard shortly after the shooting, he told booking officers: "You might as well kill me. I'm going away for life anyway."
Strelzin said: "He knew what he had done."
Strelzin said the pursuit of Webster began after an undercover officer who noticed Webster get out of a vehicle near McGregor Square saw what he thought was the butt of a handgun showing in the front of Webster's pants.
He didn't want to reveal his identity, so he requested assistance; Doherty was one of the uniformed officers who answered the call. When Webster failed to respond to calls to stop, Doherty began a foot pursuit that Strelzin said ended when Webster spun around and fired 14 rounds from his .357 Glock handgun at Doherty, with five bullets hitting the officer.
"They destroyed bones and ripped up his insides," said Strelzin, but Doherty still managed to pull his own gun and fire back.
The opening arguments followed the view, when jurors are taken to various sites related to the case. The sites included the Rite Aid parking lot at McGregor Square, the corner of Rimmon and Wayne streets, another building on Rimmon Street and, finally, the back yard on Putnam Street where Webster was captured and a gun and jacket were later found.
The first witness testified in closed court because he is an undercover officer. The Manchester Police Department's communications manager, Rachel Page, testified to the accuracy of the recorded radio traffic around the time of the chase during which Doherty was shot.
As Judge Gillian Abramson and jurors followed along on printed copies of the transcription, the tape was played.
Prosecution witness Michael St. Onge, who said he and his wife were on motorcycles headed to visit family on Notre Dame Street, testified he noticed Webster get out of a car and saw the handle of a gun tucked in the front of Webster's pants.
St. Onge was the first prosecution witness that Smith pressed about the failure of police to present a photo array that included a photo of Webster. She also focused on differences in the descriptions of the shooter and his clothing.
While St. Onge and three women who testified described the shooter as having bushy hair pulled back in a pony tail, Smith said no one mentioned Webster's tattoos.
Smith said police didn't do intensive interviews with some witnesses until two weeks after the shooting and suggested that neighborhood gossip and rumors could have affected what they told police.
Kayla Bordeleau responded: "I don't remember exactly what I said, but I remember what I saw."
Testimony resumes Wednesday morning.
- - - - - - - -Dale Vincent may be reached at email@example.com.