In 2010, police investigators who were searching the Algiers apartment of Curtis Kyles found a box of .38-caliber bullets, the same caliber as the single slug found lodged in the brain of Crystal St. Pierre when her body was discovered in an overgrown lot in Avondale.
That fact was among the evidence presented by prosecutors Friday in the kidnapping and second-degree murder trial of Kyles in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna.
But the state still has no murder weapon to present to the jury, and a firearms examiner — under cross-examination by defense attorneys — made clear that .38-caliber revolvers are far from rare.
Kyles’ alleged accomplice, Chicwanda Forbes, is currently serving 15 years on a kidnapping charge.
The murder charge against her was dropped in exchange for her testimony against Kyles.
Prosecutors say Kyles and Forbes, angry that a food stamp card that St. Pierre had given them was not working, banged on her door at the Algiers apartment complex where they were neighbors.
Witnesses testified that Kyles angrily demanded “my money” and signaled he had a gun.
The pair then threw St. Pierre into the back seat of their car and drove her to the end of a gravel road in Avondale, where Kyles shot her once in the back of the head, prosecutors said.
Kyles, who faces mandatory life in prison if convicted, spent 15 years on death row for another murder before his conviction in that case was thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1995 after it was found that New Orleans prosecutors withheld evidence that would have been helpful to his defense.
Kyles’ prior conviction is not admissible in the trial. Jurors also have been ordered not to read about the case.
As the prosecution presented its case Friday, public defenders Paul Fleming Jr. and Cesar Vazquez sought to highlight what they said are contradictions and inconsistencies.
In opening statements, the defense told jurors that Forbes changed her story to get a better deal and that some of the evidence collected from the crime scene points to another perpetrator.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Capt. Dennis Thornton testified that a single unidentified footprint was found about 100 feet from St. Pierre’s body, and a cigarette butt that doesn’t match the DNA of anyone known to be there was found 27 feet away.
Thornton testified he was not aware of the substance of Forbes’ first statement to a JPSO investigator when he conducted a second interview with her.
He said an officer transporting Forbes back from Mississippi, where she and Kyles were arrested, had told him Forbes had volunteered new information about the weapon used in the killing.
Thornton and the transporting officer looked for the gun that Forbes said Kyles had ordered her to wrap in a shirt and throw out the window along Interstate 10 but could not find it.
Jurors also watched surveillance footage of Kyles cashing a portion of a cashier’s check at Home Bank in Covington on June 17, shortly before he and Forbes were arrested in Mississippi.
Judy James, a teller at the bank, testified that Kyles had been there three times over the course of a month or so, drawing down on a $48,000 cashier’s check made out in his name.
On cross-examination, James repeated her testimony that Kyles had $30,000 remaining on the check and $10,000 in cash on June 8, two days before he is accused of killing St. Pierre over the food stamp card.
The trial continues Monday and is expected to wrap up by the middle of the week.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.