RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – On day two of Justin Merritt’s trial, jurors were shown photos of the bloody jacket riddled with bullet holes Andy Banks was wearing the day he was killed.
Merritt is on trial for the 2020 shooting death of Banks. Prosecutors say Banks was scheduled to meet with Merritt, who he’d connected with on Craigslist, to sell Merritt his 2011 Range Rover.
At some point during a test drive of the vehicle, prosecutors believe Merritt shot Banks five times in the back before taking the vehicle and Banks’ body to his home state of Virginia.
On Wednesday, crime scene investigator Suzanna Stirewalt testified to a number of red stains found inside the recovered Range Ranger.
Using Bluestar, a testing method that detects blood, those stains were determined to be blood. The agent reacts by emitting a blue light when blood cells are detected.
Photos shown to the jury showed blue light emitting from several stains throughout the car, including larger stains on the passenger seat.
Stirewalt testified that several spent shell casings were found in the passenger side of the vehicle and the back trunk area. The investigator said microfiber towels, cleaning supplies, Febreeze car freshener, upholstery cleaner and glass cleaner were also in the Range Rover.
Stirewalt testified she was called back to Virginia on Sept. 17 when Banks’ body was discovered. She said the area was rural and Banks was found in an open field with tall grass.
Photos of the clothes Banks was wearing were also shown to the jury. What appeared to be blood stains could be seen on the inside of the Banks’ red Patagonia jacket.
Markers showed where Stirewalt said she found several holes created by the bullets. The jury was also shown Banks’ black T-shirt which also showed several holes.
Also of note, Stirewalt testified a RAV4 was also tested. It did not turn up any blood evidence.
On Tuesday, Merritt’s brother-in-law, John Wilkins, testified he and Merritt drove to Raleigh in a RAV4 belonging to Merritt’s mother. He said Merritt went for a test drive with Banks but he stayed in the RAV4 with his daughter.
When Merritt returned from the test drive, Wilkins said his brother-in-law signaled he was ready to leave.
Wilkins testified he did not see Banks or anyone else in the Range Rover but wasn’t paying much attention. He told jurors he figured Merritt had purchased the Range Rover. Wilkins said he drove the RAV4 back to Danville while Merritt drove the Range Rover.
They drove together until Wilkins stopped for lunch with his daughter.