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Police: Smoking gun in homicide of York mother could be merely a report away
Police don't yet have the smoking gun to prove Kameron Orr fatally shot Ruby Mercado inside her minivan on Aug. 28.
But that evidence could be available soon in the form of a ballistics report, according to testimony from Orr's preliminary hearing Friday. At the close of the hearing, his homicide case was forwarded to York County Court for trial.
Orr, 24, of York City, is accused of shooting Mercado six times in the 200 block of North Hartley Street. Orr, known as "KO," remains in York County Prison without bail.
He is the father of one of Mercado's two young children, according to her family.
When U.S. marshals tracked down and captured Orr in a Harrisburg home Sept. 2, they found inside his backpack a .357 revolver and ammunition, which have been sent to a state police crime lab for analysis, along with slugs recovered from Mercado's body, York City Detective George Ripley testified.
"We're just waiting for the results," he said from the witness stand.
Ripley testified police also found Orr's cellphone on the passenger-side floor of Mercado's minivan, and said other evidence has been sent to a crime lab for DNA analysis.
Two neighbors testified to seeing Orr and Mercado inside her minivan shortly before she was shot, including Darren Stephens Sr., who said his fiancee and Mercado were close friends.
'Strange': Stephens said it was around 11 p.m. when he saw Mercado driving her van in "an irate manner," with Orr in the front passenger seat.
"That's not the kind of person Ruby was ... so it made me pay attention," he said. "It was kind of strange that (Orr) was in the van ... because Ruby was really trying to get away from the guy."
Stephens testified he saw them drive past in the van again a short time later, perhaps close to midnight, and he saw the van turn onto Hartley Street.
Hartley Street resident Brent Rinehart then took the stand and testified he heard a number of gunshots on his street sometime between 11 p.m. and midnight.
"About 15 seconds or so after that, I looked out (my window) and saw a man swiftly walking past my house," he said. "I did not see his face."
Rinehart said he also saw a parked vehicle with its lights on, but thought nothing of it and went to work soon afterward.
Mercado's body wasn't discovered until about 3 a.m. Aug. 29, police have said.
She was 27 years old and about to start a new job, according to her family.
Text messages: Ripley also testified that shortly before her slaying, Mercado received two text messages at 10:24 p.m. from Orr's cellphone. The first said, "Come to your van" and the second said, "We are going to talk in your van."
Orr's number was programmed into Mercado's cellphone as belonging to "B.D.," Ripley said. He confirmed that police believe that was short for baby-daddy.
Orr has admitted being in Mercado's van that night but did not admit to shooting her, Ripley testified.
Her family told The York Dispatch she was trying to obtain a protection from abuse order against Orr.
Mercado's loved ones filled the courtroom for Friday's hearing, and one of her family members thanked each witness as they left the courtroom after testifying.
Eager to help: Ripley confirmed Mercado's West Market Street neighbors were eager to help police. In York City, detectives regularly find that witnesses are uncooperative.
Orr remains charged in a different shooting, which happened about a month before Mercado's slaying.
Charging documents allege he was outside a home in the 700 block of Mason Avenue about 11:45 p.m. Aug. 1 when he pulled out a gun and fired multiple times at Willie Butler Jr., 34, who survived his wounds.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.