Gunpowder residue found on one of Chandrasekhar Komma’s hands and on a cord used to bind them suggests the slain LSU graduate student’s hands were behind his head when he was shot in the back of the head at a campus apartment in 2007, a pathologist testified Tuesday.
Dr. Gilbert Corrigan, who performed autopsies on Komma and fellow LSU grad student Kiran Allam, also told an East Baton Rouge Parish jury that gashes on the fingers of Allam’s hand resembled injuries sustained when a door is slammed on a person’s hand.
Two Baton Rouge men, Casey Jermaine Gathers and Michael Jermaine Lewis, are standing trial on two counts each of second-degree murder in the Dec. 13, 2007, killing of Allam — who also was shot once in the head — and Komma inside Allam’s Edward Gay apartment on the north side of LSU’s campus.
A third Baton Rouge man, Devin Jamell Parker, pleaded guilty to armed robbery and accessory charges in the case in 2011.
He has told police Allam was trying to flee the apartment when Gathers used his foot to slam the door on Allam’s hand.
Corrigan said the injuries to the fingers on Allam’s right hand were consistent with someone “having their hand in a door that was slammed.”
Former LSU Police Detective Patrick Martin, who photographed the crime scene, testified he documented what appeared to be blood on the apartment’s door frame.
“It appeared his hand had been slammed in the door,” Martin said.
While Allam suffered what Corrigan described as a near-contact wound to the head, the forensic pathologist said Komma was killed by a gun held directly against his head.
Corrigan identified crime scene photographs showing dark gray gunpowder residue on Komma’s right hand and on a yellow Internet cord tied around his wrists.
“It looks like this hand was next to the gun when it went off,” he said. “I think he probably had his hands back where the gun was. It means he was conscious and knew where the gun was.”
Prosecutor Steve Danielson told the jury in his opening statement Monday that neither Gathers’ nor Lewis’ DNA or fingerprints were found inside the apartment. He also said Parker told police Gathers and Lewis were wearing gloves.
Beau Brock, one of Gathers’ attorneys, said Tuesday in court that Parker — who was arrested in May 2008 and gave a statement to police — made no mention of gloves until he pleaded guilty three years later.
Allam, 33, was a chemistry student from Hyderabad, India, and Komma, 31, was a biology student from Kurnool, India.
Allam’s then-pregnant wife discovered the bodies. She has since remarried.
Gathers, 25, the alleged triggerman, and Lewis, 24, both are charged with two counts of second-degree murder and face mandatory sentences of life in prison if convicted as charged.
Parker, 24, is set to be sentenced Oct. 21.
He is scheduled to testify at the trial, which was to resume Wednesday in state District Judge Chip Moore’s courtroom.
Parker was indicted on second-degree murder charges in September 2008. Gathers and Lewis were indicted in July 2011, less than a month after Parker pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against them.