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Thread: Linniman trial opens
03-16-06, 07:20 AM #1
Linniman trial opens
Linniman trial opens
DAILY NEWS STAFF
Several weapons were found in a cabinet in Randy Linniman’s Camp Lejeune home, including parts of a gun allegedly used to kill a retired Marine master sergeant in January 2004, an NCIS agent testified in Onslow County Superior Court on Wednesday.
Agent Scott Vousboukis of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service was one of several agents who searched Linniman’s home in the days following James Taulbee’s death on Jan. 5, 2004. Linniman, 40, is on trial for first-degree murder for his alleged role in Taulbee’s homicide.
Prosecutors say Linniman isn’t the one who shot James Taulbee twice in the head in his bed at his Aragona Village home. But the retired Marine gunnery sergeant is accused of making the weapon that Ruben Wright, who was convicted of James Taulbee’s murder in January, used. Wright, a retired Marine chief warrant officer 4, is serving a mandatory life sentence.
“The defendant aided and abetted Ruben Wright in the murder of James Taulbee thus he is guilty of murder,” said Assistant District Attorney Mike Maultsby in his opening statement Wednesday.
Prosecutors say Linniman furnished the weapon Wright used. He gave Wright a ride to the Taulbee residence on the morning of Jan. 5, 2004, and then he concealed the evidence, said Maultsby, who, along with Assistant District Attorney Ernie Lee, is prosecuting the case for the state.
Wright, 49, was having an affair with Zenaida Taulbee, 37, James Taulbee’s wife, at the time of the killing. Zenaida Taulbee was also charged with first-degree murder, but she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in January and agreed to testify for the state in exchange for the lesser plea. She is expected to testify in Linniman’s trial and will be sentenced later.
Jacksonville attorney Ed Bailey, who is representing Linniman, didn’t make an opening statement, but he did question Vousboukis at length about the items the agent seized from Linniman’s home Jan. 14 and Jan. 16, 2004.
Vousboukis testified that he found a gray tote in a cabinet located in the baby’s room in Linniman’s Camp Lejeune home. Among the items found in the tote were a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol with the serial number rubbed off and a sawed-off shotgun that contained brass fittings and yellow foam, he said.
Prior to Vousboukis’ testimony, Onslow County sheriff’s detective Tom Robinson testified that he found a yellowish substance that he had never seen before on James Taulbee’s pillow and in the two gunshot wounds on his face.
During Vousboukis’ cross-examination, Bailey asked if he seized other stuff from Linniman’s residence in addition to the few items he testified to during the direct exam. Vousboukis said Linniman had a lot of weapons and ammunition in his home.
“All these firearms you found in Randy Linniman’s residence were locked up?” Bailey asked.
“That would indicate he was someone who was concerned with safety,” Bailey said.
Bailey asked if NCIS did background checks on all the weapons seized. He also wanted to know if all the weapons had serial numbers.
“I don’t believe we did. We checked some weapons but we didn’t check all of them,” said Vousboukis, who indicated that just the one 9 mm pistol was missing a serial number.
Richard Rhodes, the manager, and Shareef Matthews, the assistant manager of the hunting department at the Marine Corps Exchange on Camp Lejeune, both testified that Linniman purchased two guns in December 2003.
Linniman special ordered a .22 Winchester Magnum rifle/12-gauge shotgun, which he picked up on Dec. 4, 2003. On Dec. 5, 2003, Linniman purchased a .22/.410 long rifle. The Winchester Magnum, which is considered a more powerful weapon, has two removable barrels — one used for the rifle and one for the shotgun, according to testimony.
Bailey asked Rhodes if a criminal background check was done on Linniman before he bought the guns. Rhodes said there was nothing in Linniman’s background to prohibit the exchange from selling him a weapon.
Bailey tried to have the testimony of Barbara Marsh struck from the record. Marsh lived on Chestnut Court, next door to the Taulbee residence at the time of James Taulbee’s death. Marsh, who got up early on Jan. 5, 2004, testified that she saw the lights of a car pulling into the cul-de-sac that morning. Shortly after, she heard a noise that she described as a “large clap or slap but more muted.” A few seconds later she heard the “muffled” noise again, she said.
Bailey said he never received any written statements from Marsh regarding her testimony. She didn’t provide one to law enforcement, but she was interviewed by Lee and Maultsby. He argued that based on state statutes involving discovery, the prosecution was obligated to provide their notes from those interviews. Lee said he didn’t take any notes and Maultsby said he just jotted down the questions he planned to ask her.
Judge Charles Henry, who is hearing the case, denied Bailey’s motion to strike the testimony.
Linniman, who was released from jail on $250,000 bond in October, spent the breaks from court proceedings with his wife, Mary Ann, and his two young children. His daughter, who is a toddler, slept on a bench on the front row of the gallery during most of the morning testimony. Several of James Taulbee’s family members, who are from Ohio, were also in the courtroom.
Testimony resumes at 9 a.m. today in Superior Court.
Contact staff writer Roselee Papandrea at email@example.com or at 353-1171, ext. 238.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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