Deliberations begin in York City shooting trial
The fate of Christopher Lee Schwenk Jr. rests with the jury after the prosecution and defense gave their closing statements Thursday.
The jury of nine men and three women on Friday will begin deliberating whether Schwenk, 26, of the 100 block of North Newberry Street, fired the stray bullet that killed an innocent bystander during what police called a domestic dispute in 2013.
Schwenk is accused of firing a 9mm handgun at someone he thought was Eddie Gallon II, who had just been in a confrontation with Ashley Rodriguez, but instead fatally struck 49-year-old Monique Nixon, who was about a half-block away on South Queen Street.
Schwenk and Gallon had relationships with Rodriguez.
Closing: Throughout the four days of testimony, defense attorney Sandra Thompson called into question the police investigation that led to Schwenk being charged with first- and third-degree murder. She continued to do so during her closing statement.
"From day one, he never had that impartial investigation," she told jurors.
Thompson pointed out that a gunshot residue test wasn't performed on Rodriguez, who was with Schwenk when he was arrested in her apartment in the 200 block of South Queen Street. Police also found the handgun used in the shooting hidden in an ottoman in Rodriguez's bedroom, where Schwenk was sleeping.
Thompson contends it wasn't her client who fired the stray bullet that killed Nixon, who was about a half-block from where shots were fired, at the intersection of South Queen Street and East Hope Avenue.
Thompson reminded the jury that Schwenk outright denied having a gun, let alone firing one, when interviewed by police.
Since the start of the trial, Thompson has pinned the shooting on Rodriguez.
She also reminded the jury that previous trial testimony revealed Schwenk's DNA wasn't found on the handgun — but DNA from Rodriguez was.
"There's a lot of confusion of who shot," Thompson said. "But the motive and malice is all connected to the Rodriguez family."
Prosecution: However, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Russell said Rodriguez's DNA showed up on the gun and masked Schwenk's DNA because Rodriguez and Schwenk had a sexual encounter just before the shooting.
"It can affect the (DNA test) results," she said.
Russell also recounted the recording of a phone call between Schwenk and the mother of his children played during the trail.
In that phone call, Russell said, Schwenk admits to the shooting.
"Never once was his response, 'I'm innocent,'" she said, adding Schwenk told the woman, "I didn't shoot at her maliciously."
Though Schwenk could be found guilty of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, Russell encouraged the jury to find him guilty of first-degree murder.
"He (Schwenk) fired with the belief he was firing at Eddie Gallon," Russell said.
Jury deliberations begin Friday.