A forensic chemical microscopist provided testimony on markings and trace evidence on a bullet Tuesday morning at the Riley County District Courthouse in the trial of a local man charged with attempted murder.
Mark Harrison, 38, is charged with three counts of attempted capital murder and one count of felony criminal damage to property. He is accused of attempting to shoot and kill three law enforcement officers on Jan. 5, 2018, when he barricaded himself inside his home.
The Riley County Attorney’s Office asked Skip Palenik of Microtrace to test a bullet collected in the case and identify foreign substances on it.
Palenik said he could identify evidence of cellulose fibers, which come from materials made from wood or other plant-based materials, copper, fabric fibers, finely crushed glass and feldspar on the bullet.
Palenik said feldspar could possibly be found in concrete, and a bullet hitting the concrete could have transferred that property.
Barry Clark, one of the defense attorneys for Harrison, asked Palenik what might have caused the gouges in the bullet, which led to an approximately 30-minute sidebar with both counsels.
When the defense resumed its questioning, Palenik said because of the way the feldspar is found on the bullet, the gouges in the bullet would have been caused by a sharp impact with a lot of energy to an object containing feldspar.
Palenik said he could not speculate what exactly the bullet struck at the scene, but it was possible it could have struck concrete or a rock in the landscape. Palenik said some of the markings indicated a change of direction, and Clark said prosecutors previously argued the bullet may have ricocheted.
Harrison took the stand Monday afternoon and was questioned for more than two hours, according to KMAN radio. Harrison said he had been having problems in his marriage when he and his then-wife had an argument on Jan. 5, which led to her calling 911. Harrison said he went to Via Christi Hospital to avoid her and then went home to pack his belongings, including two guns.
When Riley County Police Sgt. Pat Tiede responded to the report of verbal domestic abuse (she said he threatened her) at Harrison’s residence, Harrison said he fired two “warning” shots out of the window after Tiede refused to leave. One of the shots hit Tiede in the leg. Harrison said it could have ricocheted from the sidewalk.
Harrison said he also shot at Tiede’s vehicle and later a SWAT armored vehicle to scare officers away. Harrison said he was under the influence of alcohol that day and made empty threats to gain control of the situation.
He said he’d recently been diagnosed with diabetes, which caused severe headaches, and he had a tumor on his adrenal gland. The defense argued the culmination of these factors led to his irritability that day.
The trial continued Tuesday afternoon.