MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - On Thursday, the defense called upon its single expert witnesses to the stand to testify in the murder trial of Michael Lee. Lee is accused of murdering Kyser Miree during a robbery in 2010.
Two of Lee's co-defendants testified that Lee accidentally shot Miree after attempting to hit him with a gun.
Dr. Roger Maro Enoka
The defense called upon physiology expert Dr. Roger Maro Enoka from the University of Colorado.
Enoka studies how muscles work in the human body.
The defense brought him in to explain the concepts of involuntary muscle action and how it can accidentally discharge a weapon.
Enoka has testified in cases throughout the country and in Canada and Germany.
Enoka has worked with police officers in Arizona after he received complaints that some officers unintentionally fired their weapons.
Dr. Enoka said he studied around 100 reports on involuntary movements and how they can affect the firing of a weapon.
He's even explained some of his research to the FBI academy.
Enoka said there have only been two research studies into this field, and they were done in Germany.
In the first study, 46 police officers were given a scenario where they had to find an armed robber and respond appropriately.
Measuring devices were placed in the guns to determine if the officers would pull the trigger.
In the experiment, 34 officers took out their weapons and seven of them put their finger on the trigger.
After the experiment, the seven were asked if they put their finger on the trigger and they said no.
Enoka said the study shows a person can involuntarily put their finger on a trigger.
Enoka also discussed a second study that was done.
He said 25 university students were given a gun with a measuring device attached.
The students were assigned to do 13 activities including jumping, kicking, pulling, and pushing; all while holding the gun.
Enoka said these activities were voluntary movements, where the brain was actively telling the body what to do. But he said the process of holding a gun is an involuntary movement.
He said in 20 percent of the 325 activities, enough force was placed on the trigger to fire the gun.
Enoka said the students had no idea this was happening, and this study shows that a trigger can be pulled even with no intent.
Defense attorney Glenn Davidson asked if a gun could be fired unintentionally if a person was trying to hit someone with it.
"In theory, yes," said Enoka.
In cross examination, Enoka told the state that he teaches medical doctors but he has no medical degree. He also said he is not a firearms instructor.
Mobile County Assistant DA Jill Phillips also brought up Enoka's fees.
Enoka said he charges $3,500 a day to testify and he also charges a fee of $350 an hour for trial preparation.
He said he spent two hours doing prep work and expects two days' pay for trial testimony.
Enoka said he didn't know the exact figure that he will be paid.
Enoka also told the state his research helps police officers to be safer in their duties, and he does not study criminal behavior.
Dr. Enoka also told the state that he has done an extensive review of literature in this field of involuntary movement and handling guns; but Enoka has never conducted studies himself.
Phillips also brought up the studies that Enoka referenced.
Phillips said in the first study involving police officers, it was noted that seven police officers put their finger on the trigger.
But she said the study found that only one officer actually fired the un-cocked weapon.
Enoka also agreed that in this particular study, it is possible that the officers intentionally placed their finger on the trigger, but refused to admit they did it on purpose, since that would be admitting to violating proper procedures.
Phillips also referenced the second study involving university students. She said it is important to note that 80 percent of the participants did not touch the trigger when performing the exercises.
The state also pointed out that in only six percent of the tested activities did the students come close to heavy trigger pull.
Enoka told the state there is no way to accurately replicate a scenario of accidentally firing a gun while trying to hit someone with it.
Enoka also said he was not brought in to give opinion on Miree's death.
The Defense rests
After Enoka's testimony, the defense rested.
Defense attorney Glenn Davidson filed a motion to reduce Lee's charge from capital murder to murder, saying there wasn't enough evidence.
Judge John Lockett denied that request.
The court will reconvene Friday morning at 8:30 a.m.
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