Forensic evidence presented at McClaney trial

Published 10:22 pm Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Detailed pictures and forensic evidence from the crime scene dominated Tuesday’s testimony in the capital murder trial of Marquisse McClaney.

McClaney is charged with three counts of capital murder in the April 2011 deaths of Carla Leanna Smilie and Mark Adams. The pair was discovered shot to death at Adams’ residence in Needmore on April 5, 2011.

McClaney is one of four defendants charged in the crime. John Foster and Troy McClaney pleaded guilty to charges of felony murder, and Brandon Ryles is currently still awaiting his trial.

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Mike Benak of the Alabama Department of Forensic Science was on the stand early Tuesday, testifying about the process of collecting photographs and evidence from the crime scene.

“After we had done the run through and marked some of the items, we put a placard in front of the item to mark it as evidence,” Benak said.

Benak testified that investigators found at least eight spent .22-caliber shells in the residence, both in the kitchen where Smilie’s body was found and in the living room, where Adams’ body was found.

McClaney had told investigators during interviews that he had not shot either victim, adding that Foster had attacked Smilie and Ryles had attacked Adams. McClaney told police he had heard only one gunshot before fleeing the residence.

Prosecutors also sought to prove the robbery that took place, focusing on McClaney’s statement that said Ryles went through Adams’ pockets and wallet then, after seeing it contained nothing of value, tossed the wallet aside.

Adams’ body was found with his feet closest to a blue recliner. Photos of the crime scene showed the wallet underneath a coffee table. “The wallet was on the other side of the coffee table,” Benak said. “It was a pretty good sized coffee table.”

Investigators had said four weapons were used in the crime, including a .22-caliber rifle, a .12-gauge shotgun and a pellet rifle and knife. Benak testified that the blue recliner was significant because of the evidence collected from it, including blood stains. “On my list of evidence collected, I’ve got projectiles and there appears to be three,” Benak said.

Two of guns involved in the crime were stolen from the gun rack in the house, prosecutors said.

Benak testified that he had photographed the gun rack within the residence. “As you stepped into the door, it was to the left,” Benak said, adding under further questioning “It was empty.”

Detective Michael O’Hara testified that upon his arrival to the scene he found “the room had stuff thrown about,” but no guns were found in the residence. He said live rounds were found in a drawer in the bedroom at a later time, which would suggest firearms had previously been in the house.

The guns believed used in the murders were recovered April 7, 2011, off County Road 6600. However, the guns yielded no DNA evidence.

Lt. Lee Barnes, who testified Monday, said weather likely was a factor in compromising DNA evidence on the guns.

O’Hara was also questioned in the recovery of DNA off of the recovered guns off of County Road 6600. O’Hara testified that no fingerprints or DNA evidence was recovered from the guns. However, prosecutors said weather may have been a factor.

“It had been raining very hard those few days,” O’Hara said. “Especially during the time the guns were out by the fence.”

The trial will continue at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Pike County Courthouse.