Pathologist describes close-range shootings

Antwan Mims 

ST. JOSEPH — When shown a photo lineup by police, Johnell Henry pointed to Antwan “Tank” Mims as the person he saw shooting on the day two men were killed outside Henry’s house in Benton Harbor, according to testimony in Berrien County Trial Court on Thursday.

Michigan State Police Trooper Anthony Young, an investigator in the detective unit, said he had shown Henry photos of six men and asked him to identify, if he could, the man responsible for the double-fatal shooting.

“He pointed to Mims as being responsible and said ‘That’s him. I’m positive,’” Young told the jury in Judge Arthur Cotter’s courtroom.

Mims is on trial on two counts of first-degree, pre-meditated murder in the shooting deaths of Michael Johnson, 29, and Cortez Miller, 21. They were fatally shot at about 3 a.m. March 25, 2018, while at a gathering at Henry’s house.

Henry, who told police Mims is his friend and was welcome at his house, has been a troublesome witness for Berrien Assistant Prosecutor Jeffrey Taylor. At a preliminary hearing in the case last year, Henry pointed to Mims as the shooter. But at trial this week, he testified that he did not see who was shooting.

Taylor continued Thursday to call witnesses who were at the gathering. They said they heard multiple gunshots before seeing Johnson and Miller lying on the ground outside the house, but they could not identify the shooter. Keiarra Thompson testified that she never saw Johnson or Miller with a gun, and did not see either of them do anything to provoke Mims.

Eusebio Solis, Mims’ lawyer, is claiming self-defense. He told the jury in his opening statement Tuesday that Mims was robbed by Johnson in the past and that Johnson and Miller had been harassing him. He said Mims’ saw a gun in Miller’s waistband the night of the gathering and felt threatened by the two.

Dr. Theodore Brown, a forensic pathologist, told the jury Johnson and Miller both died of multiple gunshot wounds. He said in Johnson’s case, one bullet entered just above the right ear and perforated the brain stem. Brown said that would render Johnson incapacitated within seconds, and dead within moments. Another bullet entered the left nostril, went through facial bones into the skull and to the left side of the brain.

Brown told the jury Miller was shot three times, once in the arm, once in the head and once in the back. The shot to the back traveled through his body, hitting several vital organs, and exited his chest, the doctor said. The bullet to the head entered his skull, hit part of his brain and exited through his cheek, Brown testified.

The doctor said the wounds to Johnson had gun powder stippling, which is small pinpoint abrasions that indicate the gun was between six inches and three feet from him when it was fired.

There has been testimony that Johnson was leaving the house when he was shot. His body was found on the ground at the front steps. Miller’s body was found further out in the front yard. There has been testimony that the final shots were fired when the victims were already on the ground.

Brown said he could not testify as to the order of the shots, and that the men could have been standing or on the ground when they were shot.

Although he could determine the paths the bullets took, “there are many variables that I don’t know,” Brown told the jury.

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