Medical examiner: Shots that killed victim fired at close range

Chief Medical Investigator Dr. Ross Zumwalt examines a blood-soaked shirt of homicide victim Roshawn Pitts on Tuesday at the Curry County Courthouse. William Riley is accused of killing Pitts. (Staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A state medical examiner testified Tuesday the shots that killed Roshawn Pitts were fired at close range and agreed with a defense attorney’s theory it was possible the shots came from inside a vehicle.

New Mexico Chief Medical Investigator Dr. Ross Zumwalt demonstrated for a Clovis jury the angle and distance from which Pitts, 20, was shot, showing the shots came from approximately 2 to 4 inches away.

Defendant William Riley watched intently from his seat and the jurors, three men and 11 women, leaned forward as Zumwalt held up Pitts’ blood-stained clothing to show the bullet holes.

Prosecution witness Chris Aultman testified Monday he saw Riley, 33, running out of Riley’s apartment with a gun and shooting through the windows of the passenger door of the vehicle Aultman was driving.

Zumwalt stated during cross-examination by defense attorney Luis Juarez the gunpowder burns and marks on the victim’s clothing indicated there could not have been a window or anything else between the gun and the victim

Zumwalt agreed with Juarez — hypothetically the shots could have originated from the driver’s seat.

One bullet entered Pitts from the back in the left shoulder and traveled forward at a slight downward angle, a second passed through the bottom of his left shirt sleeve and entered his torso above the left nipple. A third struck his right buttock, exiting his right upper thigh near the groin, according to Zumwalt. The bullet that passed through his shirt sleeve was consistent with the victim raising his arm to shield himself in a defensive motion, he said.

Under redirect by District Attorney Matt Chandler, Zumwalt said it was also possible Pitts could have been shot at those angles and proximity if he had tried to exit the car through the passenger door and the shooter had been positioned outside the vehicle.

Also on Tuesday, the mother of Riley’s two children testified she was having secret relations with Pitts.

Aultman testified Monday there was tension between the two men because of a girl.

The first-degree murder trial is expected to continue through Friday.

Riley faces a life sentence if convicted.

At a glance
Other trial highlight’s Tuesday:
• Erica Moten, mother of the defendant’s two children, testified she had a secret relationship with the victim, also known as “Sam L,” in the weeks leading up to the shooting. She testified she had broken off her relationship with Riley, who attempted repeatedly to reconcile with her.

“I looked on the ground and all I saw was the windshield and blood and Sam L’s hat,” she said describing what she saw when she ran to the scene after hearing shots.

• Ray Shaun Parsons, Moten’s cousin who said she’s like a sister to Moten, testified she too had a relationship with Pitts and was openly dating him. “He was happy because we were planning to go to Lubbock for his birthday,” she said of the morning before the shooting.

• Ann Parsons, grandmother to Moten and Ray Shaun Parsons, testified she knew Riley well but didn’t like his treatment of Moten. Riley had what she considered an obsession with Moten and she had spoken with him numerous times, trying to advise him on personal growth and improving his behavior. She said told him, “You might think you love her, but you’re not treating her like you love her.”

When she discovered Moten’s relationship with Pitts, she said she was worried “hell might break loose” if Riley found out.

— CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson