Car lot manager describes burglary scene in trial of teen with bullet in head
By COLIN GUY
August, 19, 2008
BEAUMONT - Traces of tears filled Allen Olive's eyes as he took the stand to testify about the 2006 burglary of his grandfather's car lot and the man he said shot at him.
Olive, now 28, was the car lot manager at Olive's Used Cars, the scene of the July 21, 2006, burglary at the center of the trial of 19-year-old Joshua Adam Bush.
Prosecutors believe a bullet Olive fired at a gunman he admitted he could not identify in the dim lighting is the bullet now lodged in Bush's head.
Port Arthur Police Department officers Matthew Bulls, John Keith May and Reagan Sweat testified before Olive took the stand, informing jurors that they responded to a burglary at the car lot about 2 a.m. The officers said they detained three suspects, but that they believe as many as five others escaped.
Olive and his grandfather were called to the crime scene, arriving at the 3000 block of Gulfway Drive about 15 minutes later, officers and Olive testified.
"It was just kind of a mess," Olive said, noting that a vehicle had been crashed into part of the fence in an attempt to break through it, and another vehicle had been rammed into the back of it when the first attempt failed. The trailer used as an office had been ransacked, and petty cash and car keys were scattered throughout the area.
A little more than an hour after police were dispatched to the scene, the officers testified, they left in response to a shooting about eight blocks away at the Port Arthur Inn.
Another series of gunshots soon would bring them back, according to their testimony.
Olive said after the police left, his grandfather asked him to collect the keys and cash the burglars had scattered and try to straighten up the place to prevent more thefts.
While he was doing this, Olive said, he heard someone start cursing and telling him, "You didn't see me," over and over.
"I yell back, 'OK, OK'," Olive said, indicating that he could see a man wearing a T-shirt and baggy pants, but he could not make out his face.
A second voice urged the first man to leave the scene, Olive testified.
"(There was a) little bit of slang cussing- 'Hell, no!'- then a shot was fired, and (he said) 'Now you know I'm for real [expletive].'"
Olive said he ducked down on the other side of a nearby car, and when he looked up, a second shot passed the right side of his head. Olive, who had brought a Glock 9mm along, said he returned fire then ran in one direction while the two men ran the opposite way.
"He was very shaken up," Bulls, the first officer to arrive back at the car lot, said of Olive. "He was very excited, as anyone would be. I could see him physically shaking."
Olive, who had a concealed carry license at the time
, testified that his experience with guns began at a young age. He was a member of the Orange Gun Club, he added, and the club's representative in events sponsored by the International Defensive Pistol Association's shooting competitions. He owned about 200 guns and had fired them thousands of times before an unrelated drug conviction after the burglary prohibited him from using them, he said.
Bush's defense attorney, Langston Adams, challenged the prosecution's belief that Olive's marksmanship landed a bullet in the fatty tissue of his client's head.
During opening statements, Adams said his case will hinge on two points: There are no witnesses that have personal knowledge that Bush was present at the burglary, and evidence that the shootout occurred at all is doubtful, he said.
While examining Bulls, Adams questioned whether any scientific evidence such as shell casings, blood, fingerprints or bullet holes were found at the scene.
Bulls responded that no shell casings were located, but that about half the time in shooting investigations, they cannot locate shell casings. In this instance, there was a large pile of junk near where Olive said the shooting occurred.
It is not unusual for officers to be unable to locate blood or bullet holes, he said. Bulls also testified that although he is qualified to dust for prints, it would have taken at least three hours for him to examine even a single vehicle during a busy night.
"I had no reason not to believe Mr. Olive," Bulls testified. "With his physical demeanor, I see no reason he'd have made up a story like that, it doesn't make sense."
Olive testified that he believed the gunman had been using a revolver. While semi-automatic handguns eject shell casings, revolvers do not, he said. Adams challenged his testimony on the subject, arguing that Olive does not have any formal training in ballistics.
Bush has previously told The Enterprise the bullet in his head was fired accidentally by a friend.
Jefferson County prosecutor Ramon Rodriguez said in his opening statements that the bullet can not be examined while in Bush's head, but that experts will testify that it is close in size to the ammunition Olive used and larger than the ammunition for the gun Bush claims his friend fired.
Bush's trial will resume at 9 a.m. today in Judge John Steven's Criminal District Court.