Jurors in a Fayette County homicide trial heard forensic testimony Wednesday about the autopsy performed on a Uniontown man after his 2018 shooting death.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht testified that with immediate attention, Richard Anthony Hinton, 28, could have survived one of the three gunshots he suffered May 22. The other two, Wecht testified, would have been fatal.
Tyree “Brick” Smith, 23, of Penn Hills is charged with killing Hinton at a home on Dunlap Street in Uniontown. His attorney said he acted in self-defense; prosecutors have contended it was a premeditated killing.
Wecht performed the autopsy on Hinton and said the three bullets that entered Hinton’s body caused a wound to his brain, the back of his neck and damaged his kidney and right lung.
Assistant District Attorney Meghann Mikluscak asked Wecht if he could testify how close to Hinton the gun was when it was fired. Wecht testified that because there was no gunpowder residue on Hinton’s body from the bullet wounds, the minimum distance would be between 18 to 24 inches away. Wecht told jurors he could not determine a distance beyond that.
Of the wounds on Hinton’s body, Wecht said the wound to his face would have been the only survivable wound if he would have received medical attention. Either of the other two gunshots would have proven fatal, he said.
Smith’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Michael Aubele, asked Wecht about the trajectory of the bullets and if the shots to the head and the back could have been made if the shooter was standing over the body on the ground.
Wecht testified those shots couldn’t have been made with the shooter standing above the body, but agreed with Aubele that a possible sequence of shots could have started with the shooter firing the first round in Hinton’s face and then the second and third shots could have been fired as Hinton started to fall forward.
Jurors also heard from Fayette County Coroner Dr. Phillip Reilly, who testified that Hinton’s manner of death was homicide caused by gunshot wounds to the head, face and back.
Reilly added that a potential contributing factor to Hinton’s death showed up in a toxicology report, which noted high levels of narcotics like oxycodone and oxymorphone.
Smith’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Michael Aubele, asked Reilly if that combination of drugs in Hinton’s system along with traces of marijuana in his system would have made him “really high.”
Reilly testified they would have.
Wecht, who testified later, said he didn’t believe the drugs found in Hinton’s system contributed to or directly caused Hinton’s death, but acknowledged that the drugs could have a psychotropic effect.
Mikluscak also presented testimony from a state police firearms expert who testified that the bullets removed from Hinton’s body did not come from a pistol confiscated when Smith was arrested. Sgt. Gesuele Burello testified the bullets could have come from one of 14 different guns, and likely came from a revolver.
A teenage eyewitness to Hinton’s shooting testified earlier this week that he watched Smith and another man pass a revolver back and forth moments before Hinton was shot.
The trial is expected to pick up Thursday with additional testimony.
Smith is lodged in the Fayette County Prison without bail.