ANGOLA, Ind. (WANE) - The trial for a man charged with murder after an apparent meth deal gone wrong continued on Monday.
Zao Garth Burrell is accused of shooting and killing Brent Dombroski in June of 2012. Police said he then, along with his father Danny Burrell and friend Michael Forrester, led authorities on a high speed chase and shot at officers. Burrell's trial began on Thursday with jury selection.
Steuben County prosecutors called about a dozen witnesses to the stand Monday in the courtroom.
Vicki Latta testified Monday morning. Latta said she was at the house in Steuben County where Dombroski was shot. Latta said her daughter was "seeing" Zao Burrell at the time.
She told the court Burrell was cooking meth and sold it to Dombroski, but then decided he wanted the meth back.
Latta became emotional as she continued. She said she heard a loud bang, turned around, and saw Za Burrell with a gun in his hand. She said she saw Burrell and two other people throw Dombroski's body in the back of a pickup truck. Latta said she witnessed Burrell attempting to slam the tailgate of the truck while Dombroski's arms and legs were caught in it.
Dombroski's family could be heard weeping in the courtroom during Latta's testimony.
The Indiana State Police detective who interviewed Forrester testified Monday afternoon. He said Forrester told him he was standing between Dombroski and Burrell during the meth deal. Forrester told the detective Dombroski had questioned Burrell about the meth deal, saying he didn't want any trouble. The detective said Burrell responded, "Well you've got it," pulled a gun from his lap area, and shot Dombroski.
Steuben County prosecutors called to the stand authorities and a doctor who were all at the hospital when Dombroski was brought in. The prosecution showed pictures of the pickup truck, but it did not have a tailgate on it.
The pathologist who performed Dombroski's autopsy said the bullet went into the left side of his chest, through his heart, and out his back in a slightly upward direction. She was unclear at what range the shot was fired. The pathologist said she found a large amount of meth and some traces of marijuana in Dombroski's body.
As his attorney was cross-examining the prosecutor's witnesses, Zao Burrell frequently fed her questions through notes or whispers. Burrell's attorney said that at one point, he wanted to represent himself in court. She was later appointed his public defender.
Father claims shooting was accidental
On Friday, NewsChannel 15 heard a different story from Zao Burrell's father, Danny. NewsChannel 15 interviewed Danny Burrell at his Steuben County home that day. In an unusual twist, he claimed to be responsible for what he called the accidental shooting of Dombroski.
"About 20 to 30 minutes after I got there, he [Dombroski] grabs the gun on the kitchen table and I jumped on it. I don't what he was doing picking that gun up off the table but it wasn't right. It went off and killed him," said Danny Burrell. "I don't know what he grabbed the gun for, it's ridiculous. He grabbed it by the barrel and I just went to grab it out of his hand and it went off and that was it."
On Monday, NewsChannel 15 asked Zao Burrell's attorney, Linda Wagoner, about Friday's twist in the trial.
"It's my understanding that the state has released him from their subpoena," Wagoner said. "He was originally going to be their witness, but that all changed."
Wagoner said she may now use Danny Burrell as her witness.
Steuben County Prosecutor Mike Hess had no comment on Monday.
Zao Burrell's trial continues Tuesday no later than 9:00 a.m. in Steuben County.
Murder over meth and the ensuing manhunt
Zao Garth Burrell, 25, of Angola, faces a felony murder charge after police say he shot and killed Brent Dombroski over a meth deal on June 3, 2012. A manhunt for Burrell ensued after the shooting.
Police said Burrell shot Dombroski in front of seven other people and then left the scene with his father, Danny and a friend, Michael Forrester in Donbroski's car.
After the three dropped off Dombroski's car in Williams County, Ohio, they returned to the home in Fremont around 6:00 a.m., where a pursuit with police ensued.
When the pursuit ended, about a quarter of a mile east of County Road 1.50 near Columbia, Ohio, police said Zao Burrell got out of the vehicle, started shooting at the officer and then ran off. Danny Burrell and Forrester were said to have remained seated in the vehicle.
At that point, officers took the elder Burrell and Forrester to the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio and booked them on various charges.
Air and ground units from multiple agencies, including SWAT and K-9, were used in the search for Zao Burrell, but the major manhunt ended at 6:00 p.m. Sunday. Police followed up on leads and tips to find him.
Zao Burrell was at large until about 4:30 p.m. the following afternoon when he was captured by Fort Wayne Police Department Vice Narcotics, Allen County Narcotics, the F.B.I.
Safe Streets Task Force and the Indiana State Police in Fort Wayne.
Zao Burrell is not only charged with murder, but also faces charges of felony attempted murder for allegedly shooting at a police officer while fleeing the scene of the shooting, a felony count of carrying a handgun with a prior felony conviction and Class A misdemeanor charge of carrying a handgun without a license.
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