Detective says gun, bullet that killed man was never found

09/02/2011 6:48 AM

08/08/2014 10:05 AM

Neither the gun nor the bullet that killed Vincent Barnes could be located in the days after his shooting.

"But it wasn't for the lack of trying," said Detective Tim Relph of the Wichita police this afternoon, testifying in the murder trial of Michael Reed.

Relph was called as the prosecution's last witness against Reed, accused as one of three conspirators in Barnes' shooting death in May 2009.

Barnes, 33, died of a gunshot wound from a bullet that passed through his abdomen, an autopsy showed.

The following week, Relph said, he and homicide unit commander Ken Landwehr went back to Barnes' apartment near Central and West Street and began looking for the bullet. They had found a hole in the mattress of a futon near where Barnes was shot.

They started slicing the futon.

"We got halfway and then figured no one was going to be using this anymore, so we sliced it all the way," Relph said.

The detectives went through the stuffing and disassembled the futon frame. They tore up carpet. But they could not find the bullet. Relph said the bullet could have passed through Barnes, struck another object and ricocheted out the door. Or it could have been tracked out by emergency workers, since Barnes was still alive when the arrived.

"The first job was to try and save Vincent's life," Relph said.

Relph and Detective Rob Chisholm also went looking for the murder weapon, where Jeremy Trout said that Robert and Michael Reed had dropped him off after the shooting. Robert Reed has pleaded guilty as the one who shot Reed and Trout pleaded guilty as an accomplice. Both are convicted of second-degree murder.

Michael Reed is standing trial for first-degree felony murder, as prosecutors portray him as the instigator. The three men were celebrating Robert Reed's upcoming marriage the next day. Michael Reed wanted to find some cocaine. The two brothers apparently became angry after Michael Reed called Vincent Barnes and he hung up on them.

But the detectives couldn't find the gun, searching around a convenience store, a bar and a home improvement store in west Wichita near where Trout said he thought they disposed of the gun.

Relph also testified that Barnes had a contact wound, with a burn mark tattooed in his skin. That happens when the gun barrel is touching the skin when fired. Relph said the markings matched the barrel of a .38 revolver.

Prosecutor C.J. Rieg introduced a picture police took from Michael Reed's computer. Detectives say it's a picture of Reed holding a .38. Most of the face in the picture is blocked by the gun.

Defense lawyer Lee McMaster pointed to the picture saying the eyes are brown. Then McMaster had Michael Reed stand before the jury, so they could see he had blue eyes.

The trial is set to continue Tuesday before Sedgwick County District Judge Jeff Syrios.

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