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Forensic evidence presented on third day of trial

September 14, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - The day after Raymond E. White Jr. and his son were found dead at their home, Wade Warren Painter repeatedly told investigating Berkeley County Sheriff's deputies that he didn't kill anybody.

"Do I look like a murderer to you guys?" Painter asked deputy Cpl. B.F. Hall and Sgt. T. Snyder near the end of a recorded statement that was played Thursday during the 27-year-old man's trial.

Painter is accused of shooting White, 64, and Raymond E. White IV, 20, each twice in the head at their home south of Martinsburg. In addition to two counts of first-degree murder, Painter was indicted in February 2006 on two counts of daytime burglary and counts of possession of a stolen vehicle, grand larceny and petit larceny.

On the third day of Painter's trial, jurors heard testimony from West Virginia State Police forensics examiners who said DNA evidence recovered from a pair of white, blood-stained shoes found at Painter's home belonged to the Whites.

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A black pair of shoes and a gray T-shirt that police determined was stained with the blood of the older White belonged to Painter, his girlfriend Angela Conner testified Thursday.

West Virginia State Police Lt. Howard "Brent" Myers told jurors that two blood-stained areas found by police in the front of the younger White's stolen Mazda MX-6 contained Painter's DNA profile, Myers said. The chances the DNA profiles belong to another person ranged from one in 957 trillion to one in 119 quadrillion, the agency's Biochemistry Section supervisor said.

The trial is expected to resume Monday, when Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely expects to complete her presentation of evidence.

Fingerprints and shoe prints recovered at the White's home at 1734 Paynes Ford Road appeared to link Painter even more closely to the crime scene, according to testimony by two other State Police forensic examiners.

Stephen C. King, supervisor of the agency's latent print section, said prints of Painter's middle and ring fingers of his left hand were found on the sloppily-written note that was found affixed to the front door of the Whites' home.

Conner could only partially account for Painter's whereabouts in the days before he agreed to give police a statement, which began his account for how he came into possession of the Mazda.

Jurors also heard testimony about purchases of oil, transmission fluid and a soda Sept. 14 that Painter made with White's credit card at ROCS convenience store in Pikeside, W.Va. when the car broke down. The car was recovered the next day at a nearby car repair garage off Winchester Avenue while Hall and Snyder were questioning Painter.

ROCS clerk Michelle Johnson recalled that Painter appeared to be real nervous and was shaking, sweaty and walked in a "funny" manner.

"He looked tired, messed up, like he was on drugs or something," she said.

Johnson accepted receipts for two transactions bearing Raymond White IV's name, which she said Painter printed.

Two days earlier, Painter's supervisor at Brentwood Industries Inc., said he left work about 5 p.m., about an hour into the company's second shift.

"He said he wasn't feeling well," said Davindrath "David" Maharaj, adding that another employee witnessed Painter vomit.

About four hours into his work shift Sept. 13, Maharaj said Painter quit after he was told he wasn't eligible to take a leave of absence because he only had worked there for a little over two months.

During questioning by defense attorney B. Craig Manford, Maharaj said Painter's job as a machine operator could account for scratches on his arms.

That testimony, along with Conner's account of Painter wrecking his 10-speed bike on Sept. 12, appeared to counter the conclusion that Cpl. Hall said he reached when he first questioned Painter three days later.

"He had scratches on his arms, bruises ... it looked like he'd been in a fight," Hall said. At least one wound was still oozing, Hall noted.

Though Painter normally called her twice each night from work, Conner said she never heard from him the evening of Sept. 13, and she never did get an explanation.

The next day, Conner said she didn't believe the garbage bags full of video games and other items came from the flea market as he had told her.

"I didn't touch any of it," said Conner, who was upset and told Painter she was going to move out.

Conner testified that she provided police with a recent photograph of Painter when they were invited by her to search the trailer home.

A Polaroid taken a day or so earlier depicted Painter wearing the gray T-shirt in question and holding the backpack that Hall testified this week was found outside the Whites' residence containing items stolen from another Paynes Ford Road home. Maharaj also noted in his testimony that he saw Painter with a similarly described multi-color book bag.

"We bought it a yard sale," Conner said of the book bag.

The proceedings on Thursday were slightly delayed by the discovery that a juror realized after hearing certain testimony that she knew Conner's mother and played in a pool league against her. Presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit judge Christopher C. Wilkes released the juror after she acknowledged she could not separate the competitive relationship from the woman's possible testimony.

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