SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Testimony from the pathologist that did the autopsy on the man who died from an arrow fired through his chest with a crossbow kicked off the third day in the murder trial of 26-year-old Daniel Haire Wednesday.
Haire is charged with second-degree murder in the late February 2020 crossbow death of 33-year-old Rodney Nordby, whose body was found on the afternoon of Feb. 29, 2020, by two teenagers in a park on Wallace Lake Road, south of Shreveport.
Dr. James Traylor testified for the state, outlining the findings from the autopsy he performed. As he spoke, photos of Nordby’s body flashed on a screen in front of the jury as he explained how an arrow pierced the left side of Nordby’s chest, traveling all the way through his chest and out the left side of his back.
Things became a bit testy during Traylor’s cross-examination, however, when prosecutor Kobie Smith objected to the defense attorney asking Traylor about the toxicology report that was included in the autopsy report.
Stephen Glassell asked Traylor about that report, which concluded that there was methamphetamine in the victim’s body. Smith objected to Glassell’s line of questioning, and after a sidebar with the attorneys and Judge Chris Victory, the jury was ushered out of the courtroom so the argument could proceed out of their earshot.
Smith was concerned because Nordby was a murder victim and so whatever he had in his system wasn’t relevant. But Glassell, who admits his client killed Nordby, is claiming self-defense and Louisiana’s ‘stand your ground’ law, and wanted to pursue the methamphetamine question due to the drug’s propensity to induce violent behavior.
Glassell asked if he could follow his line of questioning without the jury present before Victory ruled on the objection and Victory agreed. Glassell then asked Traylor if the toxicology report showed how much methamphetamine was in Norby’s body.
“A lot,” Traylor responded.
Traylor told Glassell that there was a write-up of the drug and its effects in the report and that it did contribute to violent behavior.
At that point, Smith said Traylor couldn’t testify to what the toxicology report said anyway, because he wasn’t qualified as a toxicology expert, and also mentioned that the toxicology report was done by an out-of-state laboratory.
Victory sustained Smith’s objection, telling Glassell that the jury had already heard that there was methamphetamine found in the victim’s system and that it is well known in legal and lay communities that methamphetamine can lead to violence. With that, the jury was brought back for the remainder of the testimony.
Traylor was followed by a litany of Caddo Parish deputies who investigated the murder, beginning with Deputy Justin Sundquist, the first patrol officer who responded to reports of a possible body being found at Wallace Lake.
Sundquist, whose body cam was activated and synced with his car cam, took jurors through the initial stages of the investigation as other officers arrived and a perimeter was set up around the mysterious ‘package’ wrapped with a bed comforter.
His testimony was followed by that of retired CPSO Lt. Michael McDaniel, who oversaw the investigation. He described where Nordby’s body was found, as well as the layer of black sheets under the comforter in which he was wrapped.
McDaniel also referred to the layers of clothing Nordby was wearing, saying he was “clothed for cold weather,” and wearing two pairs of pants.
After Nordby’s identity had been established, McDaniel said a person related to Nordby gave deputies Daniel Haire’s name, which led him and two other CPSO officers to the home Haire shared with his parents, sister, and her child.
There, with the family’s permission, they found two twin mattresses on the floor of Haire’s bedroom and an arrow on one of the beds. In a linen closet, they found pillow shams matching the comforter Nordby’s body was wrapped in.
They had also been given the name of Dillon Brown, who lived a block away with his grandparents, as a possible suspect.
McDaniel then outlined going to Brown’s grandparent’s house and the investigation that led to the arrest of Haire and Brown, who were apprehended at a traffic stop in Broadmoor.
His testimony was followed by that of CPSO Sgt. Matthew Cowden, one of the arresting officers, who also narrated body cam video as the jury watched on the large screen placed in front of them.
There was also testimony regarding the trash can in which Nordby’s body was first deposited, and how it was searched for bloodstains, as well as trash in the dumpster, where they found a rag with bloodstains they believed was used to clean stains left behind in the Haire’s kitchen after Nordby staggered in after he had been shot.
Before the day was over, jurors were able to see the actual comforter Nordby was wrapped in, the three shirts and jacket he was wearing when the arrow pierced through all of them and into his body, the mop and bloodstained rag deputies believe Haire used to clean the floor in his parents’ home, and even various throw pillows they found on the sofa that had been pierced with arrows.
The final witness of the day was a DNA expert from the Northwest Louisiana Crime Laboratory, who testified to DNA samples that were tested.
The state will resume its case at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.