Ballistic testing inconclusive in Clegg trial, motion denied to dismiss charges
|Published: 10-17-2023 5:18 PM
Bullet fragments recovered from homicide victims Steve and Wendy Reid could have been fired by a Glock similar to the one seized from murder suspect Logan Clegg, a firearms expert testified Tuesday.
“I received a fired bullet and some fragments but the largest part of it was a heavily damaged bullet and I couldn’t determine the exact caliber of it,” Jill Therriault told jurors in Clegg’s murder Merrimack County Superior Court. “The remaining features to me said it could fall into what’s called a .38 caliber class, which includes 9mm, .38 special, .357 magnum and .357 sig.”
When Clegg was arrested in October 2022, he was in possession of a Glock 17 and two cases of Sig Sauer 9mm ammunition.
During further questioning, Therriault testified that two Sig Sauer 9mm shell casings recovered from the crime scene in May 2022, and bullets and shell casings recovered from a burnt tent site in August 2022 where police say Clegg lived while in Concord, were fired from the same firearm. Fifteen different manufacturers are capable of firing Sig Sauer 9mm ammunition, she continued.
A firing test was performed in October 2022 on the Glock 17 seized from Clegg during his arrest earlier in the month. Therriault testified that the bullets and shell casings fired during the test were a match to the bullets and shell casings collected from Clegg’s former tent sites in Concord and Vermont.
“I examined a number of shell casings and bullets submitted that I had not yet seen but I knew they came from a different scene than the original crime scene,” Therriault said. “They were all Sig Luger 9mm bullets and I concluded those shell casings were all fired from one 9mm pistol based on the agreement of class characteristics and microscopic, individual characteristics. The first set compared to the second set, they were all fired from the same firearm and I determined it was the Glock 17.”
However, she said she could not definitively conclude that the gun in Clegg’s possession was responsible for the deaths of Steve and Wendy Reid.
“The Glock 17 seized from Logan Clegg could have shot the bullets examined but that is one of 15 different manufacturers that could have shot those bullets,” said defense attorney Caroline Smith during cross-examination. “You cannot say that all of the bullets examined were shot from the same gun. The gun that fired the bullet that was found inside Wendy Reid, that you examined, could have been fired by any of those 15 manufacturers with polygonal rifling.”
When examining bullets, firearm experts look for two specific patterns – conventional rifling, which is a spiral design carved into the metal of the bullet, and polygonal rifling, which have areas of high and low hammering imparted when the bullet is fired.
All of the bullets examined by Therriault had polygonal rifling, she said, and shared similar class characteristics, including the caliber, shape and material of the bullets, the size of the gun they were fired from and the pattern left on the primer of the shell casings, including the bullets recovered from the bodies of the Reids.
Therriault said Logan Clegg’s gun left “individual characteristics” on the bullets it fired during testing.
“It’s fair to say some of the individual characteristics that Clegg’s gun left on the test fire were not found on any of the bullets found at the scene, correct?” Smith asked.
“That’s correct,” Therriault said.
Smith asked about the connection between the bullets and casings that were collected as evidence at different times but entered together.
“But there’s nothing on the bullets that said they were fired from those casings other than that they were submitted in the same case that connects them,” Smith continued.
“I do not know if the shell casings were related to the shooting at all other than that they were submitted with all of the other evidence,” Therriault said.
On Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors rested their case after nearly two weeks of testimony.
Smith asked Judge John J. Kissinger to dismiss all indictments against Clegg, including four counts of double homicide and four counts of falsifying physical evidence, arguing the state failed to prove without a reasonable doubt that Clegg was responsible for the deaths of the Reids.
“There is nothing that says Mr. Clegg’s gun was the gun that fired the bullets that killed the Reids, there is nothing that narrows it down to the Glock or the model 17 of his individual gun. It is one of millions that could have been fired that caused their deaths,” Smith said.
She argued that evidence-sniffing dogs and metal detectors initially missed the shell casings because they weren’t there.
“Yes, we are implying that someone planted those casings and the state hasn’t done anything to refute it,” she said.
Kissinger denied the motion.
“The witness’s description generally matched the description of the defendant who, minutes earlier, was seen leaving Shaws across Loudon Road moving in the general direction of the crime scene. The fact that the burnt tent site is observed not to be burned on April 15 and was burned on April 20 is also evidence of a consciousness of guilt,” Kissinger said.
The defense has repeatedly argued Clegg fled Concord because of his criminal past and did not want to be bothered by police, which the judge challenged.
“That is an extreme reaction to say that his motivation was his concern of being detained on a probation violation. The fact that he left Concord after giving a false name to the police and purchased a firearm that could have been used to shoot the Reids is also significant here,” Kissinger said. “Coupled with the one-way ticket to Berlin and his searches for Concord news, once on the day of his arrest, is sufficient evidence linking him to the murder of the Reids.”
The victims were fatally shot while walking along the Marsh Loop Trail in April 2022. Their bodies were recovered three days later more than 30-yards off the trail in a natural depression, covered by leaves, sticks and other debris. Police spent six months investigating their deaths before arresting Clegg in Vermont in October.
Clegg, 27, is facing four charges of second-degree murder, four charges of falsifying physical evidence and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, felonies. If found guilty, he faces life in prison. He has remained held without bail in the Merrimack County House of Corrections in Boscawen since his arrest in October 2022.
The Reids were known for their years of humanitarian work around the world and had moved back to Concord to retire. They were outdoor enthusiasts who frequently walked the Broken Ground trails, family and friends said.
The first witness for the defense, DNA analyst Amber Smith will continue her testimony on Wednesday.