BY MIKE FUHRMAN
A Statesville woman whose body was found on the back steps of an abandoned home frequently used for drugs and prostitution suffered three gunshot wounds, including two that caused enough damage to be fatal.
Testifying in the second day of Jhammar Vernon Bowen’s murder trial in Iredell County Superior Court, forensic pathologist Dr. Jerri McLemore told the jury that Shana Nichole Harmon sustained deadly wounds to the head and torso.
One of the three bullets that struck Harmon entered through her back, passed through a rib, and pierced a lung, her heart, aorta and pulmonary artery before exiting through her chest, McLemore said.
“It would have eventually and quickly been a lethal wound,” she testified.
A second bullet penetrated the 25-year-old victim’s head behind the left ear, went through her skull and cut through her brain stem and sinus cavity before lodging in her right cheek, McLemore added. The brain stem controls essential bodily functions like breathing and heart rate.
“Trauma to the brain stem can be immediately devastating,” the forensic pathologist told the jury.
A third bullet struck Harmon in the front of the right arm and exited through the back of the arm. McLemore described the damage as a “flesh wound” and said it would not have killed Harmon.
Harmon’s body was found on January 16, 2020, by a friend on the back steps of what Assistant District Attorney Mikko Red Arrow described as a “disgusting abandoned crack house” located at 1546 8th Street in Statesville.
Bowen, 30, is charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with Harmon’s death. The prosecution alleges that he killed Harmon in retribution for stealing drugs from him.
The Winston-Salem man pleaded not guilty, and defense attorney Ken Darty told the jury in his opening statement that Bowen was “completely and unequivocally void of any responsibility” in connection with Harmon’s death.
The forensic pathologist testified for more than two hours Thursday morning.
During cross-examination by Darty, McLemore told the jury that Harmon likely suffered the gunshot wound to the head in the location where her body was found.
“It is highly unlikely after that gunshot wound was inflicted that there would be any purposeful movement,” she said.
Two spent bullet casings were found inside the home and a third casing was found outside, McLemore said.
The pathologist said she could not determine the position of Harmon relative to the shooter or the height of the shooter. The distance between the shooter and Harmon also could not be determined based on evidence at autopsy, she added.
In addition to testifying about the gunshot wounds, McLemore told the jury that toxicology screens performed on Harmon’s bodily fluids were presumptive for cocaine and marijuana.
Red Arrow, the prosecutor, has called nine witnesses during the first two days of the trial and offered more than 45 exhibits as evidence as he attempts to convince the jury of four men and eight women of Bowen’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Photos from the crime scene and autopsy were admitted as evidence and shown to the jury on a large-screen TV.
The only other witness to testify Thursday was Timothy Baize, a forensic scientist and supervisor in the State Crime Lab. He testified that an analysis of an assortment of swabs taken from various locations inside Bowen’s vehicle did not reveal the presence of blood. He also told the jury that the DNA profiles of Bowen and a second suspect, Qawiesha Khaleelah Toliver, did not match the DNA profile of samples taken from Shana Harmon’s body.
Visiting Judge Lori Hamilton sent the jury home at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. The trial is scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m. Friday and last into next week.
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