By Katie Meyer
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
The second day of testimony in the murder trial of Brandon Chaney and Bryce Huber began with the questioning of “Tony”, who witnessed the shooting of Steve Bushaw the night of February 1, 2009.
Following him on the witness stand Wednesday were the first two Seattle Police officers to arrive at that scene: Officer Edward Anderson answered questions, as did Officer Curtis Woo. In the afternoon, a West Seattleite named Marie testified as to what she witnessed from her location in the Junction that evening — and the day finished with Crime Scene Investigation Unit Detective Kevin O’Keefe explaining what his responsibilities were at the crime scene, what duties he and his team performed; from the stand he also explained numerous crime scene photos showing the jury what the Junction area looked like along California Avenue, and what evidence was discovered and where.
Tony was familiar with the Junction, and Talarico’s, as he had worked as “security” at Talarico’s for about a year; he’d also worked as security (bouncer) at the Feedback Lounge. Describing the 4700 block of California SW as a “fairly lively place before midnight on the weekends,” he was “…standing outside smoking a cigarette with a person I had worked security with, and a few other people from inside Talarico’s” a bit south of the entrance, closer to Elliott Bay Brewery, when, he testified, he noticed two young black men, in black clothing, standing across the street, near the crosswalk by the Puerto Vallarta restaurant. They had stepped off the curb into the street, their attention seeming to be drawn toward Talarico’s.
Tending to retain the vigilance of “bouncer mode” — especially when located near places he’d broken up fights and ejected patrons from in the past — Tony just watched them for a few minutes because he “… didn’t know if they were there for me. I’ve had a lot of confrontations in my job.” He turned to ask his friend if the friend noticed the two men and if he also thought there was something strange; by the time he looked back at them, the two men had moved into the middle of the street and slightly north of where they had been. Then Tony noticed a “white kid” (who he later learned was Steve Bushaw) also coming eastward across the street from slightly north, near Poggie Tavern, heading east and a bit south toward Talarico’s. The two other men were then about 2 to 3 feet away from Steve Bushaw.
“I didn’t see them approach him. I heard some kind of scuffling, I wouldn’t say an argument, it was too quick to be argument. I turned around and I saw Steve Bushaw running toward Talarico’s. The two men were both pulling guns out.”
Prosecutor Jeff Baird asked him, “Did you see Steve Bushaw pull a gun out, or do anything to provoke this?” Reply: “No sir.” Baird: “How long from when they were drawing guns did they start shooting?” Tony: “Immediately. They were both shooting. There were several rounds fired. He (Bushaw) got shot; he was thrown against the wall at Talarico’s. He was in front of Talarico’s and running toward the door.” Baird: “Could you tell whether he was hit once, or more than once?” Tony: “I knew he was hit at least once for sure. Unless he was punched by a ghost, I was assuming he had been shot.”
Tony testified that he saw the shooters run westbound together through the breezeway next to Puerto Vallarta. When the police arrived, he was “…south by 7-11, because someone had come from the breezeway and told me they’d seen some people getting into a car; I ran south hoping I could get a license plate.” There he encountered Officer Anderson, who was arriving at the Junction. “I knew him from working security, they (Officers Anderson and Woo) were beat cops in West Seattle: they worked the Junction on foot.”
His testimony continued as to how well-lit that area of California SW is at that time of night; what he witnessed when he went back inside Talarico’s as to the size of the crowd; where the wounded victim was; who was assisting the victim,. “He was not in good shape, he was definitely shot,” Tony said. “He was on the ground. I went in with Officer Anderson. Everybody was in back where the karaoke was; it was chaos at that point. We got ice and towels, to try to stop the bleeding, me, officer Anderson, there was a nurse, and one of the servers I think. and I told the door guys to shut the door and close the bar.” “Were you there when the aid arrived?” “Yes sir. I didn’t leave until probably 3 am.” “When you worked security, had you seen other shootings?” “I’d never seen a shooting before, no.”
The next two witnesses were the first police officers to arrive at the scene of the shooting. In 2008-2009, Officer Edward Anderson, together with officer Curtis Woo, worked a foot beat patrol in the West Seattle Junction. Asked why a foot beat was assigned to that area, he explained that it’s “a preferred method of patrol style; we get out of the cars, do proactive police work, we get to know the people in the area. We generally walked a 4 to 5 block area between SW Dakota to Edmunds.” Why the emphasis in that area? “There’s a lot of bars there, a lot of young people come to that area, there were ‘over-serve’ issues, fist fights, drag racing attempts. It was known as a pretty safe area, beside the occasional bar fights.” He said he got to know the patrons and business owners in the area quite well.
Officer Anderson testified that he was in a patrol car the night of the shooting, and first heard about it via police radio and was dispatched to the scene. He approached the location from the south and was there in 2 to 3 minutes, and saw “Tony” and Tony’s friend Eric coming up the sidewalk. Curtis Woo was there as backup and we entered the business, Talarico’s, together.”
“Initially 50 to 70 people were there; we noticed a large crowd toward the back; staff directed us to a wounded man who was along the west (front) wall. He was lying on the ground, his head facing west. He did appear to look seriously injured. Noticed that he had an upper body wound, gunshot wound, in his armpit, and another wound in his left thigh. We tried to help control the bleeding, I grabbed a towel and put direct pressure on the thigh while my partner applied pressure on the higher wound. Mr. Bushaw was conscious at the time. So much noise in the place, I couldn’t make out what Bushaw was saying, or what my partner was saying.”
Medics arrived in “3 or 4 minutes tops” and as they worked on Bushaw, Anderson tried to communicate with him. According to officer Anderson, Bushaw wasn’t answering questions, but he was asking them, including “Am I going to make it?” and “How do I look?”
“I tried to give him encouragement. Then he started to show symptoms of shock, pale complexion, not talking.” The medics transported him to Harborview, and “I called in reinforcements, secured the crime scene, tried to round up witnesses, oversee collecting evidence.”
Next, witness Curtis Woo, another veteran SPD officer, described as having worked in West Seattle and South Park area since 1997, answered prosecutor Baird’s questions as to the reason for and efficacy of the foot beat patrol in the Junction.
““We have a cluster of bars, cocktail lounges in the junction,” Officer Woo replied. “Public intoxication, fights at closing time, people being over-served in the bars, people carrying their drinks outside into the street, lots of fights at closing time, so we started doing this, the foot patrol. Some of the bars were drawing people (from outside the area); West Seattle is very much a small town, and people would come to West Seattle from Puyallup, Lynnwood, Tacoma, etc and cause trouble/get in fights. It’s changed partially because Officer Anderson got very well known in that business community and we were able to work with owners of bars to hire more security to check ID, change the kind of music they had, don’t allow patrons to carry drinks outside, etc. It’s gotten better, things have quieted down as a result of that work.”
“Were firearms a problem on the junction?” asked Baird. “No, the biggest problem was males getting into fights. Duking it out,” said Woo. “The majority of people we arrested for assault, for fighting, they were all intoxicated. Mostly fist fights. Some kicks.”
Officer Woo continued that when he’d been alerted about the shooting that night, he arrived from north of the Junction, and “…the information we had was, a man had been shot in the street and had run inside Talarico’s. First concerns, is the scene safe, has the shooting stopped, then has anyone been injured.”
Asked if he tried speaking to Steve Bushaw while attempting to staunch his wounds, Woo answered “Yes; he was alert, he was conscious. He appeared to be in pain, but I don’t think it had hit him yet. I asked him ‘his name, where did this happen, who did this to you.’ He said he’d been crossing the street and 2 black males in their 20’s shot him.” Once the medics arrived and worked on Bushaw, “I went and did a ‘blood run’ – whenever there’s a shooting or stabbing, the medics take a small blood sample, give it to police, police goes lights & siren to a blood bank downtown at Terry and Madison streets. The blood is typed and matched. Officer is then given a styrofoam cooler containing bags of whole blood to take to the hospital, which was Harborview.” At the hospital, Woo collected Bushaw’s clothing, to place into evidence.
After answering some of the defense’s questions about the accuracy of exhibited diagrams showing the location of various establishments in the Junction, the passage or “breezeway” from the west side of California Avenue to the parking lot bordered by 44th Avenue SW, Officer Woo stepped down.
The next witness was Seattle Police Officer Rolly Evans.
Prosecutor Baird asked Evans to describe the geographical area of The Junction. “It’s a mixture of everything now,” Evans said.”It’s kind of seeing a change over the last few years. It’s a mixture from a bakery to restaurants, several bars, a QFC store, high-rise condo buildings, single-family-residence homes as well. It’s not what I’d consider a high crime area, but on weekends, the drinking contributes to problems.” It was the first shooting in the Junction that he’d attended, said Evans, and “There haven’t been any there since.”
When he arrived, quite a few officers had arrived, and he took responsibility for trying to protect the crime scene: ” Cordon it off, protect any evidence.” Evidence included three 9 mm shell casings, and one bullet jacket (part of a fired bullet), that were lying in the street. Evans testified that “they appeared recent, no discoloration or fading to the casings. Not an area where we’d routinely find casings in the street.”
A projectile had entered Talarico’s through the wall. “I also directed someone to look at/in the breezeway while I looked in the street. Some items were pointed out to him at the end of the breezeway: “I recall a pair of latex gloves, rubber gloves; there was an unfired .38 caliber bullet laying on the ground, and a knife, a ‘butterfly knife,’ that was hidden in the dumpster.”
Huber’s defense attorney Anthony Savage questioned Evans on the 3 spent shell casings. Did the shell casings in the street suggest an automatic rather than a reload? “Yes.” Baird questioned Evans to clarify: “Semi-automatic, right? Those 9 mm casings, are those used in semi-automatics?” to which Evans replied that he believed “99% are,” and the he would assume casings like that are definitely fired through a semi-automatic. The live round at the passageway was, he testified, a .38 Special round, made only for revolvers, which do not eject casings. “Did you see that as evidence that more than one firearm was used?” “Yes.” Chaney’s defense attorney Jim Roe asked Evans to clarify that, in this case, he was not the firearms examination officer, correct? “Correct.”
Marie then took the stand. Described as a resident of West Seattle since 1984, Marie testified as to why she was in the Junction that night and what she witnessed. Having watched the Super Bowl at home, she said she went to the Puerto Vallarta restaurant to meet friends and complain with them “about lack of good commercials in the Super Bowl,” and after being there a while she “went back out the side door to have a smoke, back to the little alcove off the alley by the art and frame business. I was smoking near the west end of the passageway; in a little opening where people park their cars, a loading door for the frame place, it’s where people smoke to not be on the street.”
Asked if, as she was standing there outside, if anyone passed by her, Marie testified she’d seen three men. Able to only “generally describe” two of them, she noted the third one reminded her of NBA basketball player Kevin Garnett. “At first they were heading east, through the passageway toward California. They were giggling because they said ‘good morning,’ and it was obviously not morning any longer.” They passed from her view.
The next time she saw those three men: “I saw one, and then two more. The one alone was coming back down the passageway, first, going west. ‘Number one’ was walking briskly, the one who looked like Kevin Garnett. I had not heard any gunshots when he walked past me.”
“Then I heard gunshots. More than one, and less than a dozen. Maybe 4, 5, 6?” Marie testified that she knew immediately they were gunshots; “When I was a child, our parents had us do gun-range training. I knew what they sounded like. I moved into a corner as far as I could and tried to become one with the drain pipe.”
During questions by defense attorney Roe, Marie said that she wasn’t sure exactly how long it was after the Super Bowl ended that she arrived at the restaurant.”I can’t answer, I don’t know; it was dark.” She went out alone, and asked if there was anyone else out there smoking, Marie testified that she did not know anyone else in the breezeway, and wasn’t sure exactly how many people were there, saying “people come and go.” She could not recall if she was alone when the men first went through the breezeway, and believed that the man who said “Good morning” was “the Kevin Garnett guy.” How much time passed before he came back through? “I can’t answer that with certainty.”
“The first man who came back through, ‘Kevin Garnett.'” How much in advance of the shots did Kevin Garnett walk back through?” “I can’t answer that with certainty. Just a few moments.” After “Kevin Garnett” and the other two first went through west to east, did you look around the corner to see where they went? “No.”
With no questions offered from defense attorney Savage, the prosecutor questioned Marie further: “Were you shown a photograph of various individuals?” “Yes.” “Separate photographs of individuals themselves?” “Yes.” “Did you recognize anyone?” “Yes. The fellow who looked like Kevin Garnett.”
Next, the prosecution called Detective Kevin O’Keefe from the Seattle Police Crime Scene Investigation Unit. Baird questioned him about his experience, how the CSI unit came to be, and what their responsibilities are. O’Keefe was described as a police officer with almost 37 years experience; he has been on the CSI unit since 2003. He’s worked in the Burglary Unit, was on the Green River Task Force, then the Homicide unit to 2001, then back on Green River task force again, 2003 back in homicide – when he helped start the CSI unit.
The CSI unit was founded because “until then, it was up to homicide detectives to do their own crime scene investigations. Some were very very good at crime scene investigation, some weren’t so good, so [then-SPD Chief] Gil Kerlikowske at the time thought he’d start a unit, train that unit and have them be more specialized about collecting evidence. What’s important is your ability to observe what’s there, and documenting it.”
“What sorts of responsibilities are they assigned with?” “With a standard 3-person team, a lead detective, he or she is usually the photographer, one person’s in charge of doing crime scene sketches or diagrams, the third person collects evidence and assists with other duties we have.”
O’Keefe arrived at the shooting scene about 1:30 am on February 2nd, 2009 accompanied by two CSI detectives (his responsibility was lead detective). The state’s exhibit #4 was discussed: a diagram of the crime scene as prepared by CSI, done first as rough sketch, then in a CAD program. The red marks are evidence numbers.
“We work from the outside in. In this situation we started in the middle of the street, then went into the alley behind the Puerto Vallarta restaurant, then we went into the Talarico Pizzeria, in the bar there.” He described and explained the contents of various crime scene photographs that Baird displays on a large monitor, shots of different views and locations along California Ave in the area of the shooting, both sides of the street, including the parked 2001 Volvo s80 (Steve Bushaw’s car). Baird asked him “If you were to walk from that car to the door of Talarico’s, what direction would that be?” “It would be eastward, and slightly south.” Looking at a photograph of the shell casings on the pavement, O’Keefe noted they were “RP 9mm Luger. ‘Fired casing’ means a cartridge fired in a semi-auto pistol, the slide goes back, ejecting the casing outside of the weapon, when the slide moves forward it brings in another round.” He pointed out the tool mark made by the firing pin, and added “If there’s different types of ammunition used there may be more than one type of gun used.”
Answering the question of whether or not the location of the casings are evidence of where a shooter was standing when the weapon was fired, O’Keefe said “Not always, but usually the casings are ejected to the right from a 9 mm. Evidence shows they generally get out and a couple feet to the right from the shooter. Casings bounce, and traffic and people can move it around.”
While O’Keefe has had cases in the past where they’ve recovered DNA evidence from spent casings, he testified that in this case there was no DNA found on the spent casings. Evidence marker #4 on the diagram showed the location of a copper jacket from a fired bullet. “A thin copper covering. A full jacket, which has has better penetration power. The fragment was torn off the bullet when it impacted something. It could have been a body, or clothing, or anything; often the jacket will tear and or fall off from impact, but the lead (bullet) continues moving.”
Photos of the outside of Talarico’s revealed two “bullet strikes” made on the wall. One bullet strike even had a separate small hole near it; O’Keefe’s opinion was that meant the bullet had been tumbling when it impacted the wall- and it was tumbling because it had already hit or gone through something. One bullet strike was 13 feet 7 inches north of the entry way, and 1 foot 2 inches up from the sidewalk. A bullet fragment was also recovered above one of the bullet strikes, or “bullet defects.”
In a close-up photo of the second bullet defect on the outside wall of Talarico’s, Baird noted that it was “not a round hole,” and O’Keefe testified he believes that bullet could have been spinning or tumbling, too, having also gone through an object of some kind due to the shape of the impact mark on the wall.
The second bullet defect was 12 feet 7 inches north of the northwest corner from the door, and 3 feet 1 inch up from sidewalk. “About hip height, or waist height on a 6-foot person?” asked Baird. “Yes.”
Court is scheduled to resume at 9 am tomorrow. Among the next several scheduled witnesses is John Sylve, one of the two men who pleaded guilty to murder, saying they shot Steve Bushaw. Once the day is out, if the schedule laid out by Superior Court Judge Joan DuBuque is followed, the trial will be in recess till the following Monday (August 8th).