Testimony is underway in the murder trial of Maxwell Wyant. Wyant, 24, is accused of shooting and killing his former roommate C.J. Schoen, 21, of Irondequoit.
The two lived at 37 Hartfeld Drive in Brighton but Schoen had recently moved out. An encounter between the two occurred at that home on February 8, 2012.
Wyant shot Schoen with a shotgun and police later arrived to find Schoen dead. Wyant's lawyer told the jury in opening statements that his client did shoot Schoen but that other relevant factors led up to that shooting.
"C.J. didn't move out, he was kicked out," Wyant's lawyer James Nobles told the jury in opening statements. "You're going to learn that there was bad blood between the roommates, in fact you're going to learn C.J. was a bully."
The prosecution painted a different portrait of the events of February 8, 2012. In opening statements Assistant District Attorney Michael Bezer passionately repeated words he believes Wyant screamed during the encounter.
"Nobody ever listens to me, nobody ever listens," Bezer said at the beginning of his opening statement to the jury.
Bezer then described evidence that he expects the jury will hear in the coming days, that Wyant shot Schoen in the back with buckshot that severed his spine and that that fatal shot came only after a "less than lethal" rubber round was fired. Bezer said that round penetrated Schoen's jacket and arm.
The prosecution also explained that Schoen had substances in his system consistent with his using bath salts prior to the shooting. However the prosecution told the jury that Schoen "wasn't high" at the time of the incident.
The defense explained to the jury that they believe Schoen was high on bath salts, that he was also suicidal, and that Wyant and others took steps to keep Schoen away from that home; steps that included changing the locks and installing a steel door.
Testimony began Wednesday with Matthew Mitchell being called to the stand. Mitchell told the jury that he was with Schoen that day and that they went to a smoke shop in Irondequoit to purchase "Blizzard" which is a product commonly known as bath salts.
Mitchell, who described Schoen as his best friend and "like a brother," testified that he drove Schoen to 37 Hartfeld Drive and after Schoen was inside he walked in to find him bleeding and sliding down a wall.
Mitchell said that Wyant looked at him and said, "you can't tell the police that's buckshot."
Mitchell then testified that he tried to carry Schoen outside the house to his car but that he thought an ambulance would be more appropriate. Yet he said he never called 911 and on cross-examination Mitchell explained that be took the bath salts and Schoen's phone and left to go home.
When pressed Mitchell didn't know why he didn't call 911 or stop to tell police what happened even though he said he returned to the scene later that night.
"I had no idea, my mind was in freak-out mode," Mitchell said when pressed.
Police later located Mitchell at his home as part of the investigation according to Mitchell's testimony.
The second witness called to the stand was Brighton Police Officer Renee Stickles who was the first officer on scene the night of the shooting.
She testified that she arrived on scene at 5:27 p.m. and encountered a man in the road later identified as Wyant's father. She then came into contact with Max Wyant and a roommate identified as "Steven" who waved her over to Schoen's body which was laying outside the home at this time. She said she detected no pulse and noticed paper towels that had been placed under his coat and sweatshirt to apparently prop him up and soak up blood. She said there was also a puddle of blood just inside the front doorway.
Stickles, who is also a crime scene technician, later described the process she carried out as she photographed the crime scene and home.
She specifically described a first-floor bedroom in that home that is believed to be Wyant's. She said wires were strung around the room and that, "it looked like it was booby-trapped." Stickles said calls were made to the bomb squad to ensure it was safe to enter but that the bomb squad did not need to respond.
Stickles said that bedroom contained a large box at the head of the bed that contained a large number of long guns. Other weapons were also located in that bedroom.
"There was swords, there was homemade weapons, there was daggers," Stickles told the jury.
She said numerous rounds of ammunition were located in the home as well, with a large number of spent rounds of ammunition in the basement.
"It looked like there was a lot of target practice done down there," Stickles said of the basement. She described tin cans hanging from the ceiling and some that had dropped on the ground but appeared to have been shot. She also said there were many dents in the walls of the unfinished basement.