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LIVE UPDATES: Trial will resume Wednesday in death of Harlem teen

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Posted: February 7, 2012 - 9:54am  |  Updated: February 7, 2012 - 6:38pm
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Dennis Miller, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation analyst, discusses the weapon used in the fatal shooting of Alana Calahan during testimony in the second day of the Aaron Schmidt murder trial.  Jim Blaylock
Jim Blaylock
Dennis Miller, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation analyst, discusses the weapon used in the fatal shooting of Alana Calahan during testimony in the second day of the Aaron Schmidt murder trial.

Prosecutors Tuesday afternoon wrapped up a second day of presenting evidence in the murder trial of Lacy Aaron Schmidt, the 15-year-old Harlem teen accused in the Jan. 31, 2011 shooting death of his 14-year-old neighbor, Alana Calahan.

Day 3 of the trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday morning in Columbia County Superior Court.

Evidence presented Tuesday included video footage of the crime scene and images from Calahan's autopsy.

Before the jury was brought into the courtroom, Superior Court Judge Michael Annis reviewed the evidence and excluded some of the photos after objections from the defense that the photos are "gruesome" and don't show Calahan's body the way she was found.

Schmidt is on trial for murder, theft by taking and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

The prosecution's first witness Tuesday was Rachel Huffman, the Columbia County 911 dispatcher who received the frantic call the day of the Calahan's death from Calahan's sister.

Huffman's testimony was followed by Columbia County Sheriff's Office crime scene technician Sgt. Ken Summers, who showed a video of the room inside the home where Calahan was shot, the trail where she was dragged from the home and the bloody spot in the woods where investigators say Schmidt left her body.

Summers testified that Calahan was uploading photos to her Facebook page when she was shot from behind, and described for jurors the path of the bullet as it passed through her skull, struck her jawbone and landed on the desk by the computer mouse.

The bullet was recovered from the crime scene, and a shell casing was found in a child's project in the dining room of the home, Summers said. A GBI firearms analyst later testified that the bullet fragments and shell casing matched the gun found in the woods behind the Calahan home 12 hours later, partially buried under leaves, by a police tracking dog.

Crime scene technician Tim Burnley also testified, drawing objections from the defense at some of the grisly crime scene photos showing Calahan's body.

Assistant District Attorney Natalie Paine also called to the stand witnesses who know Schmidt personally: Thomas Pittman, Schmidt's cousin and a mutual friend of the Calahan's, and Diane Chitty, Schmidt's sister who has had custody of him since he was five.

Pittman testified that Schmidt has "anger issues," while Chitty said Schmidt had been sexually abused as a child.

Schmidt's father was not in the picture because he's currently serving time in prison on a rape conviction, Chitty told the court.

Monday

As the trial began Monday afternoon, prosecutors portrayed Schmidt as a cold-blooded killer with an ever-shifting story, while his defense attorney said he should be guilty only of manslaughter in Calahan's death.

Opening statements in Schmidt's trial Monday gave way to witness testimony that included Calahan's parents.

Calahan was shot in the back of the head with a gun belonging to her father. Schmidt, a family friend, had been ordered to stay away from the home after Calahan had found him inside when she came home from school, according to tearful testimony from her mother, BettyJo Calahan.

Prior to that incident, she said, Schmidt was treated like a member of the family - often having meals and taking trips with them.

Paine and Schmidt’s defense attorney Penelope Donkar said they expect testimony and closing arguments to continue into Thursday. Then, the jury of seven women and eight men will begin their deliberations.

Several jurors were excused during questioning, including one who knows the Calahans and two who said they believe the case should be tried in Juvenile Court because of Schmidt’s age.

Authorities allege that Schmidt, 14 at the time, shot the Harlem Middle School eighth-grader as she sat at a computer inside her family dining room. Alana was dragged outside, where Schmidt initially claimed he saw an intruder on the property.

After changing his story several times, Schmidt eventually said he was fumbling with the 9-mm handgun belonging to Alana’s father when it went off, striking Alana as she sat at the computer in the dining room.

Schmidt was arrested later that night.

Authorities found the gun in nearby woods. They also found the gun case and a box of ammunition under a bathroom sink off Schmidt’s bedroom at his home.

The gun’s owner’s manual was found in his dresser drawer, and several items from the Calahan home, including a digital camera and MP3 player, were found in his bedroom.

Schmidt pled not guilty to the charges in May.

The case has attracted national media attention, with CNN’s In Session setting up cameras and recording equipment inside the courtroom for pool coverage of the case.

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