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Two motions Wednesday pushed back the start of 15-year-old Jonathan Rowles' manslaughter case, which now could start as early as this morning.
A Collier judge heard two evidentiary motions — one that prosecutors won, another that remains in play — taking up most of Wednesday, and temporarily delaying the trial. Rowles is charged as a juvenile in the August 2010 shooting death of his mother, Kelly Ann, 39. The teen has called the shooting accidental.
Prosecutors successfully argued to keep a doctor from testifying that Rowles' attention deficit hyperactivity disorder might have been a factor in the shooting, while Rowles' lawyers are still trying to exclude evidence related to the rifle recovered at the scene.
Rowles' assistant public defender, Justin Barger, is alleging the possibility of evidence tampering because the .22 caliber rifle's tubular magazine, which holds cartridges, wasn't recovered until 45 days after the shooting.
Pictures taken the night of the shooting show the tubular magazine, which had been removed from the weapon, on the scene, but investigators didn't recover the piece until Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials noticed it was needed to test the weapon. Christopher Rowles, Jonathan's father, still had the part and handed it over to Collier County sheriff's detectives.
Barger didn't offer any proof the tubular magazine had been tampered with but said the break in chain-of-custody raises the possibility.
"The job of FDLE is to test the gun as it was" on the scene, Barger said.
Prosecutors argued that without proof of tampering, Collier County Judge Ramiro Mañalich should deny Barger's motion.
The hearing is expected to continue this morning, with Christopher Rowles taking the stand. The trial would follow after Mañalich's ruling.
If the trial starts today, it is expected to take about four days. Prosecutors are expected to try to prove culpable negligence, which requires them to show Rowles knew or reasonably should have known his actions could have caused death or great bodily harm.