TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Day five in the trial for the murder of Abilene realtor Tom Niblo was largely spent with the jury away from the courtroom so council could argue about the admissibility of testimony from two gun experts who connected the weapon found in a creek in 2018 to the crime.
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Before this testimony was was scrutinized, two additional witnesses took the stand.
Sergeant Mike Moschetto with the Abilene Police Department (APD) testified that he ran a search to see if the gun, found in a creek behind a South Leggett Drive home in 2018, had ever been reported stolen and it had not.
Sgt. Moschetto also revealed that the location where this gun was found was 800 to 1,000 feet behind the home on Woodridge Drive, where Tom Niblo was shot and killed the morning of December 12, 2016.
Next, Special Agent Dale Watson with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms testified that he traced the ownership history of the gun, and found that it was last purchased by murder suspect, Luke Sweetser in 2000.
The next two witnesses were called into question by defense Attorney Lynn Ingalsbe, who said they were not qualified to give expert testimony. However, after much back and forth deliberation, Judge Lee Hamilton overruled Ingalsbe’s objections and allowed their testimony to be heard.
First, Jeff Goudeau who owns a private forensics business, testified that APD brought him the gun from the creek in 2018 and that it was unfireable, covered in rust, and the slide was even rusted shut.
Goudeau said he was able to get the gun operable by soaking the rust off in a special solution, and he also replaced the slide on the gun, but said neither of these procedures would affect ballistic testing.
Goudeau then fired several test shots from the gun, using different brands of bullets and those bullets were then sent along to Richard Earnest for further testing.
Earnest, who owns a ballistics lab but has since retired from working criminal cases, said he was first unable to test the gun in 2018 because of its severe rusting, so he gave it back to Abilene police.
However, Earnest said he did test the bullets that were fired by Goudeau after he cleaned the gun in 2020.
By comparing markings from these test bullets to bullets and shell casings recovered at the crime scene, Earnest said he was able to determine they were all fired by the same gun.
Testimony is expected to continue Monday afternoon as Luke Sweester stands trial for the murder of Tom Niblo. Stick with BigCountryHomepage.com for any additional information.