DNA on gun not a match to man accused of killing Latasha Roundtree

The Tahj Ross trial continues July 21

By Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette
Published: July 18 2014 | 6:00 pm - Updated: 18 July 2014 | 6:25 pm in Courts, News, Public Safety, Public Safety Rotator, Trials,

An investigator testified Friday the DNA found on the .40 caliber handgun used to kill Latasha Roundtree doesn’t belong to Tajh Ross the man on trial for murder.

Cedar Rapids Police crime scene investigator Martin Eganhouse said there was a mixture of DNA found on handgun but the major contributor was Yasin Muhidin, who has pleaded guilty in this case but not who police and the prosecutor say is Roundtree’s killer.

The other contributor or contributors couldn’t be matched to anyone, including Ross, Eganhouse said.

Ross, 20, is on trial for first-degree murder. He is accused of shooting and killing Roundtree, 19, who was shot while she was a passenger in the car with two others as they were headed to a party where Ross was Sept. 22, 2012.

Ross also faces charges of intimidation with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit a forcible felony and going armed with intent. Ross is accused of firing in to the care and killing Roundtree, according to a criminal complaint.

The prosecution continues its case 9 a.m. Monday in Linn County District Court. The trial is expected to last all next week.

Replay live coverage: Tajh Ross murder trial, day 4

Eganhouse said it’s rare to develop a DNA match from a gun. He said it hasn’t happened before in cases he has worked. The gun was swabbed on the serrated area of the slide and trigger area because those are the areas where skin cells could likely be found.

In earlier testimony this week, witnesses testified Ross and Yasin Muhidin, 18, struggled over the .40 caliber gun, but the witnesses said Ross took the gun, saying Yasin was too little for it.

Yasin pleaded to involuntary manslaughter and trafficking stolen weapons for his part in Roundtree’s death.

Eganhouse also testified about the spent cartridges recovered by the garage. The cartridges were from the .40 caliber gun used in the shooting. He said the cartridges were consistent with the audio recording of the shots fired that night.

Eganhouse explained a .40 caliber gun will make a louder noise than a .22 caliber gun. The softer shot noise could be attributed to the .22 caliber.

Witnesses testified earlier this week that another defendant who has pleaded in this case may have had a .22 caliber revolver.

Eganhouse also confirmed the shell casing from the .40 caliber bullet recovered from Roundtree’s skull was never found but that’s not uncommon.

Doug Davis, Ross’ attorney, on cross asked if background noise could impact audio of gunshots.

Eganhouse said it could and also distance can impact it.

Cedar Rapids Police crime scene investigator John McDaniel testified about the condition of the car in which Roundtree was shot. The front passenger side window was shattered and there were no bullet holes in the car.

McDaniel found a .40 caliber ammunition box on the south side of the alley, near where the spent shell casings were found in front of a garage. He never found any evidence of any stray bullets hitting structures around the crime scene.

Gazette Reporter Trish Mehaffey continues her live coverage from the courtroom. Follow her live blog at thegazette.com. Followers can provide comments and ask questions during the trial.


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