State paints bloodied picture of night two Kissimmee police officers were killed

Jurors saw crime scene, autopsy photos in court Friday

By Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - As day three of testimony continued in the case against accused cop killer Everett Miller, prosecutors called forensic technicians to the stand.

Three of them painting the bloodied crime scene through pictures, digital scans and physical evidence from the Aug.18, 2017 night Kissimmee Police Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard were killed. 

"First on the scene, I captured photographs of the scene and all of the evidence," said Osceola County deputy sheriff and forensic technician Courtney Laverdiere. 

Those pictures showed two pools of blood where Laverdiere testified the two officer's bodies were found. Near them, were pictures she took of a Pittsburgh Steelers hat and a broken red and yellow beaded necklace. Key pieces of evidence for the state as Thursday, they showed jurors a Snapchat video of Miller wearing both that hat and necklace leaning against his car moments before the officers were shot. 

The state also presented photos Laverdiere took as she processed Miller's car the following Monday after the shooting. There she testified she found blood and hair particles on his tire.

"In this area of the vehicle, I found hair and blood stains," Laverdiere testified. "Behind the tire and closer to the trunk right here you can see it also has the red stains on it."

She also testified Friday there were trace amounts of blood on the Jordan's sneakers Miller was wearing that night as well. 

The forensic evidence Friday also continued with the state calling on Sara Zydowcz,  the Osceola County Assistant Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy on Howard. 

"The cause of death was gunshot wounds to the head and the manner of death was homicide," Zydowcz testified.

Zydowcz testified Howard was shot two times, once behind his left ear and another right above his lip. She told the jurors there was gunpowder and residue near the gunshot wounds, she believes he was shot at close range. 

"The end of the gun was close enough that not only was there stippling, but some of the actual material was embedded in his skin," she said. 

The jurors were showed the gruesome images of the autopsy in court Friday before they were sent home for the weekend at lunch. 

After lunch, the state fought to allow an expert researcher at George Washington University, who specializes in researching groups and people with anti-government beliefs. The state trying to argue Miller believed himself as being a sovereign citizen who hated police officers. 

The trial is expected to continue Monday morning at 9 a.m. 

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