Casey murder trial underway

Gabrielle Sarann

Casey murder trial underway

CREATED May. 9, 2012

FORT MYERS - Defendant Brian Casey is representing himself in his own murder trial. He's charged with second degree murder and first degree arson in the death of phone book ad salesman Ryan Vanderson and faces life in prison.

Brian Casey's first real test came this afternoon, when he cross-examined the medical examiner about how she ruled the death of victim Ryan Vanderson, the man he's accused of shooting to death then torching his home on October 15, 2010.

"And then he was found in his residence covered in debris and on fire so this kind of rules out the natural scenario of suicide scenario, accident scenario or undetermined," said the medical examiner. "The most logical manner of death in this case is a homicide."

But Casey tried to discredit the medical examiner's theory.

"She hasn't been qualified in any of that," said Casey. "The only thing she's been qualified in is the fact that she does autopsies."

Casey went on to question the trajectory of the bullet to Vanderson's head.

"If he was kneeled down, I would actually have to go like this wouldn't I?" demonstrated Casey. "To do what?," asked the medical examiner. "Shoot him on the side of the head purposely for it to come out on the other side of his face."

Earlier the state questioned neighbors who saw smoke coming from Vanderson's home. Neighbor Peter Trust even went into the burning house and described what he saw.

"[I] went back in and sort of stopped and looked again and that's when I realized what I was looking at," said Trust. "What were you looking at?," asked the prosecuting attorney. "I was looking at Ryan Vanderson."

Casey also faces murder charges for the death of his childhood friend Larrick Sikes, found dead five days after Vanderson but he will be tried separately for that. This trial resumes tomorrow morning and is expected to last a week.

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