MERCER — The prosecution continued its case Thursday in the murder trial of Sean Rain Jr. with the defendant’s aunt giving emotional testimony.
Rain is on trial for first-degree murder in connection with the June 2018 death of Trivoune Craig, 30. Mercer County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Robert G. Yeatts is presiding over the case.
At the time of Craig’s killing, Rain’s aunt, Ashley West, and Danta Bell lived at 70 S. Myers Avenue near the location where Craig’s body was found by police in his car at 2:52 a.m. June 23, 2018. The car was running and in the middle of the street when police arrived.
Craig was pronounced dead at the scene by Mercer County Coroner John A. Libonati from gunshot wounds to the face.
On Thursday, West testified that Rain entered her home early on the morning of June 23, 2018, took off his shirt and jeans, and put them in their washer with detergent and bleach.
Under cross examination, West said she could not remember if Rain put detergent and bleach in, or if police suggested that he did.
West testified that Rain told her that night something about someone being gone. West said she woke up as Rain arrived and did not know what was happening.
But West said she assumed from Rain’s words that somebody was dead.
Bell testified that he let Rain into the South Myers home sometime around 2:15 a.m. June 23, 2018, and asked Rain what was going on.
“He (Rain) said ‘It’s cool unc,’ “ Bell testified. “He (Rain) said something about disrespecting ‘Bubby.’ “
“Bubby” refers to Jaylan “Bubby” West of Farrell, who was in a shooting Feb. 28, 2015 at a birthday party. Michael Bagnall is serving a life sentence for Jaylan West’s murder.
Bell also testified that Rain never clarified what happened that morning, or why he came to the house so late. Bell testified that Rain never said he shot anyone.
In exchange for their testimony, Bell and West were both granted immunity from charges in connection with drugs found after police served a search warrant on their home. During the search, police reported finding heroin, Fentanyl, marijuana and a handgun licensed to West.
Since Bell was on parole at the time, he was sent back to jail days after the murder, and faced drug and weapons charges which would have resulted in more jail time.
“You would not be testifying today if you hadn’t gotten jammed up?” defense attorney Steve Colafella asked Bell on cross examination.
Bell said he would not be testifying if police had not found drugs and a gun in his house.
“It’s because I don’t know anything,” Bell told Assistant District Attorney Dan Gleixner under re-direct questioning. “I don’t know what happened outside. I can only tell you what happened inside my house.”
Both Bell and West testified that they did not see blood on Rain’s clothes when he came into the residence that morning and that he was not carrying anything.
Forensic experts also testified Thursday.
Timothy Gavel, a forensic DNA scientist with the Pennsylvania State Police lab in Greensburg, Westmoreland County, reported that Rain’s DNA was not found on any of the samples taken out of Craig’s car.
The forensic scientist supervisor, Albert Lattanzi, of the state police lab in Harrisburg, reported that one particle of gunshot residue was found on Rain’s right hand.
Under cross examination by Colafella, Lattanzi said that it was unlikely for residue to be found on a suspect 36 hours after the incident, which was when the test was administered. Lattanzi also testified that it was possible the residue was transferred from the back of a police car when Rain was taken from Farrell’s lockup to Sharon police departments or on any bench, for example, that had not been cleaned in awhile.
More testimony about forensic evidence is expected today.
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