Two women agree Webster fired gun during car ride in city
MANCHESTER - Two reluctant prosecution witnesses in the attempted murder trial of Myles Webster told different stories Thursday about what Webster said, or didn't say, about killing a cop earlier on the day he's accused of shooting Manchester Police Officer Daniel Doherty.
Jennifer Whitfield and Antonia Ellison, who were in a car with another woman and Webster that day, said that following an argument, Webster fired a gun out of the car while they were riding under the Granite Street Bridge at rush hour March 21.
But Whitfield insisted she had never heard Webster, who she had known for about three weeks, say anything about shooting a police officer before he would go back to prison.
Whitfield told both prosecution and defense attorneys she doesn't remember what she told police who interviewed her two days after the shooting, even after being shown a transcript of the interview.
Ellison, who had also only known the man they called Zo for about three weeks, said that earlier on the day Doherty was shot, she and another woman went to pick up Whitfield's rental car, which Webster was driving.
Ellison said they all drove around for a while and Webster said if he got into any kind of trouble, he didn't care if any officer got in his way. He'd "shoot an officer," Ellison quoted him as saying.
Ellison also said she saw Webster with a gun that day in a basement off Cedar Street. She was at one end of the dirt floor basement and Zo and another male friend of Whitfield's were engaged in a verbal disagreement at the other end.
"I looked over and I saw the gun," she said. Out of the corner of her eye, she said, she saw Webster throw a black gun on the ground, along with a magazine.
That was before the quartet - Whitfield driving, Ellison in the front passenger seat, a third woman Webster was dating behind Whitfield, and Webster behind Ellison set off again.
After the gun was fired from the car, Whitfield and Ellison were in agreement in their testimony that they went to Rite Aid, where Whitfield and Webster went into the store to buy cigarettes.
By the time they pulled out of the parking lot, the women were arguing and at the red light at Amory Street, Webster got out of the car and walked off into the park behind Rite Aid, headed west. That was the last time they saw him that day, they testified.
The women have been held in custody for a week, arrested after deliberately avoiding a subpoena to testify.
A number of Manchester police officers also testified Thursday. Two testified about finding a gun and black jacket where Webster was arrested after a foot chase the night of Doherty's shooting.
A third, Lt. Carlo Capano, said he was off duty when Doherty was shot, but was called in to work on the case, assigning investigators and assigning officers to interview witnesses.
Capano described Webster as angry and yelling when he saw him in the booking area. Capano said Webster said something like: "You might as well kill me now. I'm going away for a long time."
Capano said Webster also said if Capano wanted to talk to him, to do it now, shouting: "The window of opportunity is closing."
Defense attorney Robert Swales suggested some witnesses were more important and that affected interviewer assignments, but Capano responded: "At that point, all witnesses are important," adding that the initial assignments were random.
Swales also wanted to know if Capano had made the decision not to show photo arrays that included Webster's photo to witnesses. No, said Capano, it was "an investigative decision, a collaborative decision."
Swales complained that the booking photo was released that night and appeared in the news media in the morning, contaminating witnesses' memories.
The defense argues that Webster is a victim of mistaken identity and the police investigation was conducted in a way to ensure Webster's conviction.
Jurors Thursday saw their first pieces of physical evidence, including two bullets, one found in Doherty's left boot in the ambulance and one found on the backboard when he was in the Catholic Medical Center emergency room.
Det. Sgt. Richard Brennan identified those pieces of evidence, as well as Doherty's left boot, which had no bullet hole, and his upper body clothing.
Doherty's dark blue uniform shirt, still with his badge pinned on it and pens in his breast pocket, appeared almost untouched, except for what appeared to be an abrasion cut on the back with some dried blood around it.
A similar mark was found on the rear of the dark blue T-shirt he wore over his ballistic vest, but the rear panel of the vest showed a larger hole with jagged edges and two smaller holes in the "shirt tails" that keep the vest tucked into uniform pants. There was considerable dried blood on the panel and on the white undershirt that had been cut off Doherty.
The trial resumes today at 9 a.m.
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Dale Vincent may be reached at email@example.com.