Medical examiner testifies in Bell case

Bell's parents walked out of court
March 25, 2008 4:12:23 PM PDT
It was an emotional day in court Tuesday for the family of Sean Bell.They had to listen to autopsy reports on their son, hearing about the bullets that killed him. The testimony was so raw, so painful, that they walked out of the courtroom.

Eyewitness News reporter NJ Burkett has the latest from the courthouse in Kew Gardens.

They lasted about 36 minutes, until the medical examiner described the fatal shots. Of the 50 bullets fired, it all comes down to two. The medical examiner says either one could have been the bullet that killed Sean Bell.

The testimony was so painful, so graphic, that Bell's parents had to leave the courtroom.

On Tuesday morning, the prosecution called Dr. Michael Greenberg, who performed Bell's autopsy. They introduced into evidence a series of sketches showing where the bullets struck.

There were a total of four shots across the right side of his body. Wounds to his arm and shoulder were not fatal. But one bullet pierced his neck and punctured his windpipe. Another ripped into his torso, piercing his liver and his right lung before becoming lodged in his spine. Either one of those shots, Greenberg testified, was enough to kill Bell.

Sean Bell's mother, Valerie Bell, sobbed softly in the third row. Her husband angrily shook his head. And behind them, Bell's fiance, Nicole Paultre-Bell, never looked once at the witness stand.

Prosecutors say the two fatal shots were fired by Detective Michael Oliver, who admitted to the grand jury that he shot Bell by accident, while aiming for Bell's friend, Joseph Guzman.

Another civilian witness, Jean Nelson, testified Tuesday that undercover detective Gescard Isnora never identified himself as a police officer before the shooting.

Nelson: "He said, 'Yo, let me holla at ya.'"

He said that was all he heard before gunfire erupted.

Prosecutor Charles Testagrossa: "Did you hear any police commands at any time during any of these events?"
Nelson: "No."

In his own grand jury testimony, Isnora has insisted that he did identify himself. The defense will insist that Bell was in no condition to understand anyone's commands. Dr. Greenberg testified that his blood-alcohol content was twice the legal limit.