Judge could decide Thursday if accidental shooting death of deputy moves to trial

Judge could decide Thursday if accidental shooting death of deputy moves to tria

FRESNO, Calif. - A bombshell dropped in court Wednesday in the case of a Fresno County Sheriff's deputy accused in the accidental killing of a fellow deputy. There's new evidence that could point to negligence on behalf of Deputy Jared Mullis.

Deputy Mullis didn't show any emotion in court Wednesday. According to a detective investigating the accidental shooting, Mullis said Sergeant Rod Lucas held the gun that killed him. 

But on Wednesday, Department of Justice criminalist Mindy Crow said she found Mullis' DNA on the gun and holster, but none of Sergeant Lucas.

"That means, I don't believe [Lucas'] DNA is in that mixture," said Crow. 

A reenactment video played in court shows the layout inside a sheriff's department office near the airport. Witnesses said Sergeant Lucas and Deputy Mullis were horse-playing last Halloween when Lucas' gun dropped. That's when witnesses said Mullis pulled out his own gun to show Sergeant Lucas how his gun fit into his holster.

"Detective Mullis was showing Sergeant Lucas his holster and gun. There was an exchange and during the exchange, the gun fell or dropped, and the next thing you know, there was a shot," said Mullis' lawyer, Roger Wilson.

The next part of the story is unclear. There's conflicting reports on who held the gun last and how it discharged. Department of Justice Criminalist, Mike Appel said he tested the gun by throwing it on the ground and striking it, but the gun never discharged. 

CBS47 legal analyst, David Mugridge said without Lucas' DNA on the gun, this makes it tricky for the defense.

"Because there's no evidence of DNA from Lucas on the weapon, that means by definition, that somebody else was responsible for his death and the only one we are looking at at this point, is the defendant," said Mugridge.

Wilson said a coroner claimed the gun fired 24 to 32 inches away from Lucas, but later in cross examination, said it could've been a bit closer.

The preliminary hearing continues Thursday morning when a judge could decide if there's enough evidence in the case to head to trial.

If Mullis goes to trial and is convicted of involuntary manslaughter, he could spend up to 14 years in prison.

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