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The juvenile manslaughter trial for 15-year-old Jonathan Rowles started Wednesday afternoon after a judge denied the defense's motion to exclude evidence related a rifle.
Prosecutors have called their first witness in the case against Rowles, who is accused of shooting and killing his mother, Kelly Ann, 39, in August 2010. The witness, Rowles' former neighbor Thomas McDonald, described how Rowles pounded on his door after the shooting and said an intruder had shot his mother. McDonald said he then went into the Rowles home, where he found Kelly with a faint pulse.
Before McDonald was called, Collier Circuit Judge Ramiro Mañalich ruled on a motion by Rowles' lawyers to exclude evidence tied to the rifle believed to be used in the shooting. Rowles' lawyers had argued the evidence chain of custody was broken when investigators failed to recover a part of the dismantled rifle from the shooting scene. The piece, a tubular magazine that holds cartridges, was found 45 days after the shooting the home of a cousin of Jonathan's father, Christopher.
Mañalich ruled chain of custody wasn't broken because it starts when detectives seize the evidence. He ruled that although the tubular magazine was on scene, chain of custody didn't start until detectives picked it up from Christopher Rowles, who recovered the magazine from his cousin.
Witnesses also testified there wasn't any evidence the magazine had been tampered with, a possibility raised by Rowles' lawyers.
"I can't say I noticed anything major wrong with it," Christopher Rowles testified.
The trial is expected to continue later this afternoon. It likely will extend into next week.