02/10/2016 - NY, US News: Call for an expert witness in the case of a Rochester man accused of murder delays trial

Rochester, N.Y. Closing arguments were expected Friday in the trial of a man charged with killing three people in a Rochester apartment nearly two years ago, but the jurors were sent home after attorneys argued over a final defense expert witness in the case.

Jurors have been listening to testimony in the trial for nearly a month.

The lawyer of Steve Fulcott notified the prosecution around 8 p.m. Thursday that he planned on calling an expert witness before resting his case. This action by the defense is going to delay closings in the case until sometime next week.

Fulcott is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. Fulcott is accused of the execution-style murders of Jermeliah Simmons, her cousin, Jacqueline Simmons, and Michael Nelson. The bodies of all three victims were found inside an apartment on Chili Avenue Feb. 22, 2014.

Testimony from medical experts said all three died from a shot in the head from the same 9 mm handgun. It is believed the killings were retaliation for Jermeliah Simmons stealing marijuana from an elaborate business run by Andre McFarlane.

The defense wants a retired New York state police officer to testify as an expert witness. However, the prosecution claims she is not a valid expert witness and was working as a private investigator for the attorney representing Marlando Allen who's been deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial.

"In order to testify as an expert witness in New York state court, you actually have to have a specialty in the area in which you're going to offer an expert opinion. Not every police officer is capable of testifying as an expert on all the things in police work. You have to have an expertise above that of the average person," said Kelly Wolford, prosecutor.

"We're basically asking her to testify to her knowledge of firearms. Given the fact that she's a former New York state police investigator, she's worked on numerous cases, carries a firearm, and the fact that in her experience as a NYS police investigator, she has knowledge of how to investigate these types of cases. Given some of the testimony that has come out by the people's witnesses, we want to show how homicide investigation should properly be done," said Paul Guerrieri, defense attorney.

The police officer will be questioned Friday afternoon outside the presence of the jury which has been sent home for the day. Following that questioning, the Monroe County judge will rule whether or not she can testify as an expert witness.

Chief Editor, Witness Directory