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Witness says she saw fatal shooting

September 21, 2005|by Pepper Ballard

HAGERSTOWN

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Ricky Rinaldo Stallings Jr. wrote on his Chambersburg Pipe & Steel time card - placing his boss' initials next to it - that he arrived at work at 8:15 a.m. on Feb. 8, about 25 minutes after he allegedly shot and killed Mary Elizabeth Williams outside her Maugansville home, according to testimony Tuesday during the second day of his trial.

Stallings, 24, whose last known address is listed on charging documents as 6088 Molly Pitcher Highway, Apartment 3, in Chambersburg, Pa., is charged with first- and second-degree murder, among other charges, in the shooting death of Williams, 34, as she was being picked up by her boyfriend, Christopher Hobart, to go to work at First Data.

Stallings is charged with attempted first- and attempted second-degree murder in connection with allegedly firing into the car and nearly striking Hobart. Hobart had sped off from Williams' house after seeing Stallings allegedly motion with a gun for Williams to get out, Hobart testified Monday.

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Ronette Chubb witnessed nearly the entire shooting, she testified Tuesday. As she was traveling south on Maugansville Road behind a school bus going about 15 miles per hour at about 7:50 a.m., she watched as a Chevrolet Blazer in front of the bus turned left onto Alpine Drive, she testified. Chubb said she watched the Blazer pull up beside a Chevrolet car.

She saw "the muzzle of a handgun come out" of the passenger side of the Blazer, but couldn't see who was inside because the back windows were tinted, she testified.

"I heard four shots ... one," she said, slapping her hand on the witness stand. "And then three more."

Maryland State Police Crime Scene Investigator Rick Stotelmyer testified that when he processed the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, sometimes referred in testimony as a Lumina, at the Sheriff's Department where Hobart drove Williams, he found several pieces of shell casing jackets and lead among shattered glass in the car. Stotelmyer testified that one of the bullets fired into the car passed directly in front of Hobart through the windshield.

Williams was treated in the parking lot of the Sheriff's Department and pronounced dead at Washington County Hospital, according to published reports. Dr. Susan Hogan, a state medical examiner, testified Tuesday that Williams died from one bullet which passed through her right lung, aorta and then left lung, filling her chest with blood before stopping in her left arm.

Williams' mother, Elizabeth Malek, left the courtroom crying during Hogan's testimony.

Chubb testified that the "Blazer came shooting backwards across Alpine Drive. It headed out Maugansville Road, the way I just came."

Sheriff's Department Investigator Gregory Alton testified that in May he drove the path Stallings allegedly took after the shooting, taking mostly Interstate 81 from Williams' house to Chambersburg Pipe & Steel.

Alton said the drive, going the posted speed limits, took him 28 minutes. Assistant Public Defender Eric Reed challenged the time frame, saying traffic patterns at about 1 p.m., when Alton took the drive, and traffic patterns at about 8 a.m., when Stallings allegedly drove that route, would be different.

Nelson Bricker, Stallings' boss at the time of the shooting, said he saw Stallings working at Chambersburg Pipe & Steel at about 8:25 a.m., but he did not see him come into work or punch in his time card in the lunchroom.

Stallings' defense attorneys, Reed and Assistant Public Defender Brian Hutchison, objected to Stallings' time card when it was presented to Bricker by Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Robert Veil, which resulted in a lengthy conference at the bench. When Veil resumed questioning about the time card, more objections, all overruled by Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III, followed.

Bricker testified that Stallings' time card that morning had 8:15 a.m. written down for the time he arrived with the initials "NB" beside it. Bricker testified that he did not write his initials on the card and did not authorize it.

"Rick told me he hand-wrote it in," Bricker said on cross-examination.

Defense attorneys questioned both Pennsylvania State Police investigative troopers and Washington County Sheriff's Department investigators at length about the search of Stallings' Blazer, which was taken at the time of his 11:30 a.m. arrest.

Sheriff's Department Investigator Kenneth Barnhart testified that he found a spent 9 mm Winchester shell casing near the door frame on the passenger side of the Blazer when he opened its door, which had been sealed with evidence tape.

Police were questioned at length about the chain of custody for the shell casing or who signed off for the evidence between the time it was placed in an evidence bag and the time of trial.

Stallings' former landlord, James Kendle, testified he sold Stallings a 1989 Chevrolet S-10 Blazer on Feb. 4, four days before the shooting. Stallings traded in an "orange and white" S-10 Blazer for the other Blazer, Kendle testified.

Kendle, whose dealership is near Stallings' former apartment building, said he did not see Stallings' new Blazer parked at the apartment building the morning of the shooting. Kendle said he arrives to work at about 7 a.m.

Sheriff's Department Investigator Christopher Weaver testified that Stallings told him that he left home at 6:45 a.m., went to his mother's house to take her diapers and drove to another place to change his clothes before he went to work. He later changed his story, adding that he also followed his wife to work, picked up a friend and watched him get into a fight before he went to work at about 8:15 a.m., Weaver said.

The trial was to resume today at 9 a.m.

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