Prosecution rests

Prosecution rested in the first-degree murder trial of Derrick McElroy in Webster County District Court Monday morning.

The defense will begin its case today at 9 a.m.

McElroy, 28, is accused of shooting Brandyn Preston, 19, in the neck at a bonfire party on May 8, 2011.

Preston, who was paralyzed from the shoulders down, died eight months later as a result of the shooting.

Dan Markus, a customer service analyst from Verizon Wireless, testified Monday that calls made from a phone number associated with McElroy were made on the night of May 7 and morning of May 8, 2011.

Phone records from that number were subpoenaed as part of the investigation.

Markus also said that text messages were being sent from that phone during the same time frame.

However, Markus added that the number could not be traced to a specific person because a prepaid wireless re-sell carrier was being used.

While records showed that a local Verizon cell phone tower, at 148 Ave. M, was being used, under cross examination Markus said there’s no way to tell exactly where the calls were being made from.

Sunset Gifford, of Des Moines, and Angie Stewart, of Fort Dodge, testified Monday that they received phone calls and texts from McElroy with the subpoenaed phone number the weekend of the shooting.

Both women also said they were not using the phone to speak with another person who may have been using that number later.

Dennis Kern, a latent fingerprint examiner with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said he found three partial fingerprints on a .22 Ruger long rifle, which was previously identified as the gun that was used to shoot Preston.

However, none of the fingerprints could be used to identify who might have fired the gun.

Kern also could not find any fingerprints on live rounds of 10 mm ammunition that were found near the crime scene.

He testified that he was able to lift a palm print from a bag that was found inside a retaining wall that contained 24 live small-caliber rounds.

While he was able to make a positive identification on the palm print, it wasn’t that of McElroy or of Deangelo Foy, whom investigators identified as a person of interest early in the investigation.

Kern said that the DCI prefers to examine guns that have been transported in cardboard boxes, where they are secured down. This prevents them from moving around and possibly removing any fingerprints that are on the gun.

The Ruger was stored inside a green case.

“Soft packaging has tendencies to wipe off ridge detail,” Kern said. “Firearms have a relatively small percentage (of finding latent prints). It’s around 10 percent of the time.”

But he added that there was no evidence the gun had been wiped down to remove any fingerprints.

“Sometimes you see striations or with a wet rag you’ll see streaks,” Kern said. “There’s no obvious streaking on the gun.”

The rifle was found the day after the shooting in the home of Percy “Ike” McElroy, Derrick McElroy’s grandfather. Investigators found the rifle in the basement under a pile of clothes.

Detective Steve Hanson, of the Fort Dodge Police Department, said he and other investigators conducted a search warrant in 2012 to establish what he referred to as “condition of occupancy,” which showed Derrick McElroy lived with his grandfather.

Mail addressed to Derrick McElroy was found during that search.

The postmark date of the mail was May 16, 2011, eight days after the shooting.