Murder Trial, Part 2

I was unable to attend today’s portion of the trial.

Yesterday’s testimony placed the Target in Athens as the location where the interaction began between Bryan and the Gear girls, Chelsea and Samantha. Using the information in the affidavit for a search warrant for the car driven by Chelsea, I’ve constructed a Google map of various points of interest including the Target, the Gear home, the Mough home, and points along the way. Note that the location of the Gear home on my reconstruction is inexact.
  1. Chelsea stated she and Samantha left Target around 6pm and turned left onto Atlanta Highway to head home. As the map shows, this is also the way Bryan would go home.
  2. They both passed the Pepsi facility near the intersection of Atlanta Highway and Hwy 78.
  3. The next location is the intersection of Atlanta Highway and Burson Avenue. Here, Chelsea stated that Bryan was going straight while they were turning right. That matches how each would travel home. However, this is where Chelsea says she made an obscene finger gesture to Bryan. Again, according to the affidavit, this is where Bryan turned to follow them.
  4. Chelsea turned left onto Elder Street and claims that this is where a collision occurred between her car and Bryan’s motorcycle.
  5. Chelsea then stated that Bryan turned left onto North Church Street.
  6. Chelsea stops at Elder and Broad Street. Bryan supposedly appears behind her again, which means that he had to travel along Main and take the dogleg right on Broad.
  7. Chelsea then drives to her house where the fatal shooting takes place.
Item 3 is where Bryan deviates from his route home. I have to wonder, was the offense of receiving “the finger” enough to get Bryan upset enough to follow the girls, which lead to the collision in 4? Or did something happen earlier to cause Bryan to follow them? I suppose the forensic evidence of any incident at Burson Ave and Elder Street would have been presented today.

To add to the mystery, the affidavit states:

that Deputy Sergeant Ken Elrod was on patrol in the Bogart area during the time of the incident.... Specifically D/S Elrod was in his marked patrol car parked in front of the Bogart Christian Church at the intersection of Elder Street and Broad Street, D/S Elrod was backed into a parking space facing the intersection. D/S Elrod states that neither a motorcycle nor a Nissan Sentra passed in front of him during the time described by Chelsea Gear.

Was the deputy wrong as to the time? Was he sure that he was alert? Did Chelsea lie about this? It’s an awfully elaborate story if so. At the very least, this is how she would have gone home. How long did she have to concoct something before her statement was taken? Was there any evidence of a collision on Elder Street?

Let’s add another complication. Google maps claims that the travel time from the Target to Bryan’s home is 39 minutes. Google doesn’t use the route that Bryan would have taken, but let’s assume that the time is accurate enough. Using data from the U. S. Naval Observatory, on that day sunset was at 6:27pm, with civil twilight ending at 6:53pm. If Bryan left the Target at six, that gave him barely enough time to get home under the conditions of his driver’s permit. Would he take such a risk because a girl he did not know flipped him off?

Without Bryan to defend himself, my concern is that the defense attorney will use Bryan’s alleged deviation from his way home to follow the two girls, for the simple slight of an obscene gesture, to attempt to show that Bryan was aggressive enough so that the girl’s fear of harm was real and substantiate the notion that Bryan might have likewise been aggressive toward Gear. At this point, I’m not sure what else Mr. Tolley can do. But all he needs to do is raise reasonable doubt. But even this will be very difficult if the evidence shows that the motorcycle stayed in the street and did not threaten Gear.

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