After four days of testimony the prosecution in the first degree murder trial of Brian Horn rested at 2:45 this afternoon. Horn is accused in the March 30, 2010 death of 12-year-old Justin Bloxom.
Allegedly, Horn, then a driver for Action Taxi, lured Bloxom out by sending text messages posing as a teenage girl promising sex. The next morning, Bloxom's body was found face down in a pool of water in a wooded area off Highway 171.
Final witness for the prosecution was Dr. James Traylor, forensic pathologist at University Hospital, who performed the autopsy on Bloxom, which determined the boy died by suffocation and that it was homicide. When Traylor was called to testify, notebooks were distributed to the jury that contained Traylor's postmortem documentation and accompanying postmortem photographs.
After the notebooks were given to the jury, defense attorney Daryl Gold objected to the postmortem photographs, saying they were "prejudiced."
At that point, Presiding Judge Robert Burgess sent out the jury, and asked Traylor if the photographs were necessary to the report. Traylor replied the photographs were used as visual proof to his conclusions. The photographs showed the victim had sustained a number of abrasions and lacerations, prior to death.
However, Prosecutor Ron Stamps, assistant district attorney in Desoto Parish, said the defense had been shown the entire autopsy report days earlier, and some photographs the defense objected to at the time were removed from the binder.
Burgess then reprimanded Gold, saying Gold was "disingenuous with me in front of the whole jury," adding it was "very disturbing" that it was done in court, when the issue had been handled prior to the trial beginning. Gold apologized to the court.
When the jury was brought back into the courtroom, Stamps began his questioning regarding the autopsy report. Tempers flared again during Gold's cross examination of the pathologist, who he asked about accidental smothering. As the doctor began to answer, Gold interrupted, the doctor continued to try to answer, both got louder until the Judge stopped them, saying, "Both of you will be civil to one another," and then turned to Traylor and instructed him to answer the question. "I'm not buying accidental smothering," the doctor said.
Gold then asked Traylor if he considered himself "the voice of the victim," and Traylor said "I am the last person to be with the victim."
Traylor's testimony was the last in a litany of witnesses that began Friday morning with the tearful testimony of Amy Fletcher, the victims, mother, who took the jury through the last day of Justin's life, and how he came to stay overnight at the home of his best friend Dustin Rosegrant.
Prosecution witnesses have included friends who were with Justin the night before he died, as well as family members; law enforcement officers from the Desoto Parish Sheriff's office, Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office, Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and expert witnesses.
In addition, a records custodian from Verizon testified regarding phone and text records, specifically between Horn and Justin in the approximately three hour period before Justin's phone went silent for two hours, before being used again by Horn.
Monday, CPSO Deputy Robert Greer and prosecutor Thompson read out loud the texts exchanged between Horn and Justin in the hours before Justin's death, with Horn posing as a teenage girl promising sex to Justin, as Amy Fletcher silently wept in her seat on the front row of the large courtroom.
Jurors looked and then some quickly looked down or away when the more than 20 sexually graphic photographs Horn sent via text to the boy throughout that last night. Barely-audible gasps could be heard in the courtroom when Greer, reading Justin's text after receiving a photo of a sex act, said, "I'm only 12 years old."
This morning, CPSO Lt Owen McDonnell, a fingerprint expert, testified regarding 14 fingerprints found on the outside of Horn's taxi by BPSO crime scene investigators, but only sent to him for examination in January.
The fingerprints were taken and place in Bossier Parish Sheriff. At a Jan. 10, 2014 meeting between all the agencies investigating the crime - DPSO, BPSO, CPSO and the FBI - in order to get newly assigned prosecutor Dhu Thompson up to speed.
Gold questioned the prints only being sent for analysis in January, but in the multiagency investigation, files were kept in the jurisdiction where they were taken. Only Caddo Parish - and more recently, Desoto Parish - have the newest technology to analyze fingerprints.
Horn's defense team will kick off their case in the morning at 9:30 at the Desoto Parish Courthouse.
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