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Cops & Courts

Testimony: Head shots were instantly fatal

  • Jeremy-Diestler-2-jpg

    Dr. Frank Miller, chief deputy coroner, testifies at the Jeremy Diestler murder trial on Jan. 30.


  • Jeremy-Diestler-3-jpg

    Jeremy Diestler looks at the prosecutor at his murder trial at the Lorain County Justice Center on Jan. 30.



ELYRIA — Any of the 10 gunshot wounds on Matthew Stinson’s body eventually could have killed him, but the five shots to the head were instantly fatal, Chief Deputy Lorain County Coroner Frank Miller testified Monday in the fifth day of Jeremy Diestler’s aggravated murder trial.

“Each one taken individually could kill him,” Miller said.

Assistant County Prosecutor Donna Freeman has argued throughout the trial that the 32-year-old Diestler shot Stinson after luring him out of his Wesley Avenue apartment in Elyria on the pretense of a drug deal.

Diestler allegedly shot Stinson from the parking lot with an AR-10 high-powered rifle that he’d stolen from his father, hitting him five times in the torso. Stinson staggered inside the apartment building and collapsed at the bottom of a stairwell, where Freeman has said Diestler shot him five times in the head with a stolen 9mm semiautomatic handgun.

Diestler then allegedly fired several rounds at Stinson’s neighbor, Angela Ward, as she came to investigate the sounds coming from outside her apartment. One of the bullets Diestler is accused of firing grazed Ward’s shoulder.

Joshua Barr, a firearms expert for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said several of the bullets and shell casings recovered from the scene and from Stinson’s body matched rounds he test-fired from the pistol and rifle police and prosecutors have said were used in killing.

Barr also said that a shell casing found between the hood and windshield of the Chevrolet Tahoe Diestler was driving when he was arrested was fired from the AR-10.

The alleged murder weapons were recovered from Diestler’s mother’s home in Grafton, where he had been staying, police officers testified earlier in the trial.

Another BCI forensic scientist, Donna Schwesinger, said that that samples collected from Diestler’s hands after his arrest were negative for gunshot residue. However, Schwesinger said the sample was taken about 10 hours after the shooting and that was more than enough time for the residue, which is left from firing or handling a gun, to have been washed off or worn off on its own.

Also taking the stand was BCI forensic scientist Sam Troyer, who testified that Stinson’s DNA was found on Diestler’s shoes, which had tested positive for blood.

He said the results showed that the chances of someone else having the same DNA as Stinson were “many times the population of Earth,” which according to the U.S. Census Bureau is a little less than 7.4 billion people.

Defense attorney Jack Bradley has argued that his client had gone to the apartment complex to buy drugs from Stinson, 25, but fled after hearing the shots.

The trial resumes today before county Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.

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