Case against Alexander Ingram goes to jury


By Kevin Spradlin

Previous coverage
* 4/3: Things the jurors will never know
* 4/2: Judge denies defense motion for mistrial
* 4/2: Defense seeks mistrial
* 4/1: Detective: ‘I forgot’ to search co-defendant’s home
* 4/1: Pete Ingram: ‘To clear myself, I’d tell on my momma’
* 3/31: Co-defendant: ‘My uncle killed that man’
* 3/31: Defendant’s nephew: My uncle did it
* 3/30: 911 calls replayed, detectives questioned
* 3/30: Victim’s wife of defendant: ‘He was our friend’
* 3/27: Alternates selected, opening statements set for Monday
* 3/26: Medical emergency delays murder trial
* 3/25: ‘At a particular place at a particular time’
* 3/25: Jury set in murder trial of Norman General Store owner
* 3/25: Prospective juror caught up in gambling ring
* 3/24: Race becomes an issue in jury selection
* 3/24: Defense works from “presumption of innocence”
* 3/23: Jury selection begins in murder trial

ROCKINGHAM — The case against Alexander Ingram in the beating death of former Norman General Store owner Michael Leverne Collins Sr. will go to the jury later this afternoon.

Assistant District Attorney Dawn Layton finished with her 21st and final witness, North Carolina Chief Medical Examiner Deborah Radisch, at 11:46 a.m., towards the end of the morning session on the fifth day of testimony in the Nov. 26, 2012 event.

Alexander Ingram

Alexander Ingram

Radisch, who performed the autopsy on Collins, testified the victim had been struck at least 11 times by what appeared to be a hammer.

Defense attorneys Stephen Freedman and Frank Wells seem to believe the best case for Ingram is the one presented by Layton and nearly two dozen witnesses. Freedman twice asked Superior Court Judge Richard T. Brown to dismiss the charges based on insufficient evidence presented by Layton. Brown denied the motion on both occasions and focused the attorneys on instructions to the jury, which will be given shortly after the lunch break ends at 2 p.m.

Freedman and Wells opted not to call any witnesses in their client’s defense. Instead, Freedman asked Brown to dismiss the charges after Layton called her last witness due to the “insufficiency of the evidence.”

Prior to that, however, Michelle Hannon provided expert testimony that seemed to help both sides, at least a little. The question is whether or not Hannon and other witnesses provided jurors anything close to reasonable doubt as to the guilt or lack thereof regarding Ingram.

Hannon, a forensic biologist specializing in DNA with the state crime lab in Raleigh, said swabs taken from

* the inside of the rim of Collins’ camouflage hat (a) definitely belonged to Collins, (b) excluded co-defendant Henry “Pete” Ingram and (c) couldn’t rule out Alexander Ingram’s DNA due to insufficient quality or quantity of the sample available to be tested;

* The VCR, part of the Norman General Store’s non-functioning security video system: Hannon testified there was DNA “of at least two contributors” but could draw no conclusion as to whom the DNA belonged;

* The cash register: Hannon testified that Collins’ DNA was present, and the DNA of Alexander Ingram could be excluded. There was, she noted, additional DNA present but the sample was lacking in quantity or quality to make any additional conclusions;

* From a swab from the hasp on the back door of the Norman General Store, the method through which the perpetrator(s) forced his/their way out of the store the night of Nov. 26, 2012, Hannon said DNA matched Collins but excluded both Alexander Ingram and Pete Ingram;

* a cutting of fabric taken from the blue jeans Pete Ingram wore when first interviewed by investigators on Nov. 27, 2012: the DNA of Collins, no conclusion on the DNA of Pete Ingram and Alexander Ingram was excluded;

* Swabs from the hammer, believed to be the murder weapon: Collins’ DNA, but no match for the DNA of Alexander Ingram or Pete Ingram;

* Swab from the hammer’s handle: Hannon testified there was DNA of at least three individuals. She was able to exclude Pete Ingram’s DNA but could draw no further conclusion;

On cross examination by Wells, Hannon confirmed she could not testify as to how the DNA came to be on the item(s), nor for how long the DNA had been there.

Closing arguments are expected to take place Monday afternoon.

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