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UPDATED: Child’s bra and bloody footprints presented among evidence in Russell trial

By KATIE HURST/ Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA — Circuit Court Judge Michael Joiner presented stipulations signed by the defense and the state to jurors Nov. 16 stating that blood found at the crime scene matched the DNA of 11-year-old Katherine Helen Gillespie.

Gillespie’s blood was found on the floor and walls of the laundry room of 5048 Kerry Downs Road, on the back hatch of the SUV in the garage, covering a child’s bra and baseball cap found on the floor of the garage and on a towel and men’s khaki shorts in the washing machine.

The bloody footprint found on the floor of the laundry room matched Gillespie’s blood and the print matched that of defendant Ryan Russell.

Joiner said these blood matches were found by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences through DNA typing procedures.

Jurors in Ryan’s capital murder trial  were shown an array of evidence Nov. 16 that was collected from the crime scene.

Russell, 37, is accused of killing  Gillespie on June 16, 2008 at his home by shooting her in the back of the head before stuffing her body in a trash can found in the backseat of an SUV in his garage.


The evidence shown Nov. 16 included several guns, bloody clothing, bloody bare footprints, the trashcan the body was found in and a .40-caliber shell casing.

Retired Shelby County Sheriff’s Office deputy sheriff Don Gould acted as evidence technician and custodian on the case and said he uncovered the casing in the laundry room of the residence, inside the washing machine that contained bloody water.

A pair of men’s khaki shorts, a couple of cell phones, a driver’s license, flip flops, two panties, a child’s bra, a belt, a red and white bandana and athletic shorts were also found in the washing machine, he said.

A blood-covered child’s hat and child’s bra were found on the floor of the garage.

Lead investigator on the case, Shelby O’Connor, testified Nov. 15 that the laundry room appeared to be the scene of the shooting.

Gould said when he first processed the crime scene he recovered a .40-caliber automatic handgun that was lying on top of a couch in the garage. The gun was loaded and had one round in the cylinder.

O’Connor said the original forensic report identified this gun as the one that fired the casing found in the washing machine. However, in September, an amended forensic report was released stating the gun found on top of the couch was not the one that ejected the casing, she said.

“We started digging again,” O’Connor said.  “Starting to see if we could figure out where the gun was or what gun killed Katherine.”

Susana Russell, the defendant’s sister, testified Nov. 16 that she and a group of friends found four guns when cleaning out the contents of Russell’s home after the crime.

She said one of the guns she found was a .40-caliber automatic handgun that was uncovered in the back corner underneath the couch in the garage. O’Connor said Susana informed the sheriff’s office about the gun and it was recovered from Susana’s friend who had been storing it.

Circuit Judge Michael Joiner dismissed the jury for lunch a little after noon and the trial will resume at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 16.


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