Officer in Center of Alleged Evidence Suppression Case Testifies in Court


ROLLA, Mo.- A hearing is now over in an Ozarks murder case review.

On Thursday, testimony centered around why defense lawyers for Brad Jennings of Buffalo were not given a key piece of evidence in the original trial.

Jennings is serving a 25 year sentence at Licking State Prison for the 2006 Christmas morning murder of his wife Lisa Jennings.

His defense team alleges the State and the Missouri Highway Patrol purposely withheld evidence that could have changed the outcome of the original trial.

Jennings and his lawyers say they never had access to a gunshot residue test performed on the robe worn by Jennings at the time his wife died of a gunshot wound to the head.

The final day of testimony brought witnesses to the stand to discuss why that happened.  Lead Highway Patrol Investigator, Sgt. Dan Nash, has been at the center of the evidence suppression allegations for much of the hearing in Rolla this week.

Thursday he testified about being asked to re-examine the case after it was ruled a suicide by authorities in Dallas county, by a member of Lisa Jennings’ family.  He said photos from the scene led him to believe Lisa Jennings could not have shot herself.
“Gunshot residue doesn’t tell us that somebody shot someone or was shot by someone,” said Nash.  “All it tells us is gunshot residue is present.  We have to figure out why it’s present,” he said.

As to why residue testing was never given to the defense, both Nash and Kevin Zoellner, the original prosecutor, said the gunshot residue testing would have been inconclusive as to a cause of death.  Both men also said they didn’t know the tests existed.

“What I had I have an obligation to, and I did, disclose,” said Zoellner.  “I have an obligation to disclose stuff I have, and that’s what got disclosed.  Since I didn’t have it, didn’t know about it, I did not disclose it,” he added.

The final witness for the State was Nicholas Gerhardt, a retired Highway Patrol Crime Lab trace analyst.  Gerhardt told the judge that he performed a gunshot residue test on the robe worn by Jennings, but he admitted that testing would not have been able to prove who did or did not fire the weapon.  

Lisa Jennings did have gunshot residue on her right hand the morning she died.  Brad Jennings did not have any on either hand.

It will be 60 days before any ruling is made.

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