Sen Trial: First Witnesses

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Three witnesses testified during Day 1 of the State vs. Dharminder Vir Sen on October 25th.

Following opening statements in the State vs. Dharminder Vir Sen trial, the State called its first witness, Linda Ernst, who, as in the Dennis Poitra, Jr. trial, recounted for the Court the events of August 25th into the early morning hours of August 26th. (Click here to read that initial testimony: )

Against protests by Cotton, Judge Fenn allowed the audio of the Mrs. Ernst's 9-1-1 call to be played.

At one point she is heard saying to the EMS and law enforcement approaching the house, “My God, have you ever heard of such a thing?  Someone just shot my husband!"

Lead Prosecutor Matt Redle also entered several photos into evidence, including photos of the Ernst home; the cut screen in the dining room; the three shell casings on the floor of the hallway; three different photos of the basement office in disarray; and the utility room where Mrs. Ernst kept her purse. She told the Court that when she was at the hospital ER waiting room, upon retrieving an item from her billfold, she noticed that about $30 to $35 in cash was missing.

On cross examination, all Sen's attorney, Tim Cotton, said was, "Ma'am, we are truly sorry for your loss.  No further questions."  Redle then asked Judge Fenn to release her from her subpoena.

After Mrs. Ernst, the jury heard testimony from Officer Randy Pitchford of the Sheridan Police Department, the first to arrive on scene. Assistant Prosecutor Christopher LaRosa showed Officer Pitchford the photo of the shell casings, and a photo of an aerial view of the Thurmond / Huntington neighborhoods. The officer pointed out for the jury where the Ernst and Bear Cloud homes are in relation to each other, and where the Ernst home is in relation to Huntington.

On cross exam, Cotton asked Officer Pitchford if he had actually seen what happened in the house, to which he of course said, “no.”  Cotton asked, “Then you can't say with certainty how the casings got into hallway?”  “No.”  Cotton continued, “So you don't know if they were kicked or if Mrs. Ernst hit them with her foot on her way to the kitchen to get the phone or the suspects touched them as they ran out of the house?”  “No.”

The last to testify Monday was Dr. Cory Jost, who tried to save Bob Ernst at Sheridan Memorial. He testified that Mr. Ernst had technically died as he was transferred from the ambulance into the ER, in that his heart had stopped.  Dr. Jost attempted to revive him, opened his chest from his sternum to his back and saw scarring from a previous surgery.  He opened the paracardial cavity to see if blood had accumulated; it hadn't.  Mr. Ernst's heart came back and started pumping again. 

Then Dr. Jost said that he and Dr. Barry Mangus took Mr. Ernst to the Operating Room and opened his abdomen – whereupon a whole volume of blood came out.  His small bowel and colon had sustained multiple injuries, and the left renal vein sustained the most severe injury.  Dr. Jost said they got it controlled, the heart stopped and they revived it again, but not for long.  Dr. Jost said that Robert Ernst died at 2:52 a.m.  Jost added that it “was not a matter of them stopping their attempts to save him; rather, it was a matter of Bob's body not tolerating the stress it had just undergone for two hours.”

On cross examination, Cotton confirmed with Dr. Jost that Bob had prior heart problems, and asked if Bob had another heart attack.  Jost said he couldn't say because he hadn't seen the autopsy.  Cotton asked Jost, "Can you say with certainty that he didn't die of a heart attack instead of a gunshot wound?"  Jost replied that he couldn't say what the cause of death was because he didn't' perform an autopsy, but the doctor sternly added, "if he wasn't shot, he wouldn't have died that night."