PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) – The trial of a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer charged in the shooting death of a stranded motorist is winding down.
Defense attorneys for Nouman Raja wrapped up their case Tuesday afternoon, closing arguments scheduled for Wednesday.
Raja is accused of shooting Corey Jones, a part-time drummer who also worked as a housing inspector, on October 18th, 2015.
Jones, 41, was returning home from a nightclub performance when his SUV broke down on an off-ramp of Interstate 95. Raja, who was in the area investigating car burglaries, spotted Jones’ SUV around 3:15 a.m. and drove his van up the ramp, blocking Jones in.
When Raja, dressed in plain clothes, approached the SUV, Jones got out. Raja would later tell investigators that he told Jones he was a police officer and shot at him when Jones pulled a gun.
Raja told a police investigator at the time that Jones then ran down an embankment and pointed the gun again, so he fired more shots. Jones died at the scene.
During his testimony for the prosecution, Palm Beach Gardens police Sgt. Chris Kaprinski, who did the “on scene” interview with Raja after the shooting, said there were discrepancies in what he was told.
What Raja didn’t know, according to prosecutors, was that Jones was speaking to a tow truck dispatcher on a recorded line. Raja is never heard identifying himself as a police officer.
FBI analyst Suzanne Brown, who testified for the prosecution, examined three recordings made around the time of the shooting; one to a roadside assistance center, the police radio traffic and Raja’s call to 911.
On the 911 call, Raja could be heard telling Jones to drop the gun. Brown made note of the time between when the shots were fired, caught on a recorded phone call with roadside assistance and when Raja called 911, telling Jones to drop the gun.
“Are you able to tell us how many seconds elapsed between the final shot that we hear and the 911 call?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes,” answered FBI analyst Suzanne Brown.
“How many seconds is that?” she was asked.
“I counted 33 seconds.”
Prosecutors say Raja saw Jones threw down his gun but Raja kept firing, which is why he is charged with attempted murder.
Prosecutors believe Jones dropped his gun and ran more than a 120 feet when he was shot and fell to the ground. A medical examiner testified on Monday that one of the bullets hit his heart, meaning he could no longer run.
“How far do you, in your expert opinion, do you believe Corey Jones would have been able to travel after his heart was blown out that way?” the prosecutor asked.
“I’d say a few feet,” said Palm Beach County Medical Examiner Dr. Gertrude Juste.
Jones’ body was found 200 feet from the SUV and 125 feet from his unfired gun.
On Tuesday, the defense put on an expert who contradicted prosecution testimony from medical examiner about the effect of the fatal shot that hit Jones.
“For example, if you were pointing a gun at somebody, turned a little sideways, would that open the area up to gunshot,” asked attorney Richard Lubin.
“It absolutely would. It would open up the part on the chest to have this wound here just below the nipple on the right side,” said Dr. Stephen Nelson, Polk County Medical Examiner
The defense appeared to argue that Jones was holding the gun when he was shot, dropped it and then ran after he was shot in the heart.
“They do not drop like a ton of bricks, like snapping your finger. It does not happen,” said Nelson.
“You’re telling this jury Corey jones would still be able to run almost half the length of a football field,” asked attorney Adrienne Ellis?
“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” said Nelson.
Raja told the judge Tuesday he did not wish to testify in his own defense.
Raja, who is of South Asian descent, could get a life sentence if convicted of manslaughter and attempted murder.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)