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Prosecutors: Shot that killed Coeur d’Alene officer was fired through a jacket pocket

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 29, 2017

Jonathan Renfro, 29, enters the courtroom, at the Kootenai County Courthouse in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Jonathan Renfro, 29, enters the courtroom, at the Kootenai County Courthouse in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

In a short day of testimony Friday, Kootenai County prosecutors showed the jury how they believe Jonathan D. Renfro fired the shot that killed Coeur d’Alene police Sgt. Greg Moore on May 5, 2015. The bullet was fired from a gun concealed in the shooter’s jacket pocket.

When Moore confronted Renfro that morning – an encounter captured on Moore’s body camera – Moore asked Renfro if he had anything in his pocket. The camera showed minimal movement before a loud pop could be heard, followed by sounds of Moore struggling to breathe.

On Thursday, prosecutors presented the jury autopsy photos showing the damage caused by a 9 mm hollow-point bullet that broke apart into three pieces as it passed through Moore’s mouth, nasal passage and neck vertebrae. Although medical crews successfully restarted his heart, doctors declared Moore brain dead about 13 hours after he arrived at Kootenai Health.

Deputy Kootenai County Prosecutor David Robins called Stuart Jacobson, who works for the Idaho State Police Forensic Services. He said he was tasked with examining a jacket to determine whether the wearer could have fired a handgun through the pocket.

He examined a hole in the right-hand pocket and conducted chemical tests which showed positive for gunpowder residue, he said. He then took a similar jacket and fired a similar gun through the pocket. “As far as I’m concerned, they are almost identical,” Jacobson said of the holes.

Defense attorney Linda Payne asked Jacobson when he conducted his tests and he replied this past July.

“The shooting was in May 2015,” Payne said. “Why did it take you so long?”

“I don’t know. This was when it was submitted to me,” Jacobson said.

Payne asked Jacobson whether he was prompted to test the jacket after learning that a defense expert had come to the same conclusion.

“No, I was just asked to check,” he replied.

The defense then tried to block Robins from calling Post Falls Detective Robert McDonald, who had interviewed Renfro about a stolen Glock pistol on April 28, 2015, just a week before the fatal shooting of Moore.

Payne argued that her client had already pleaded guilty to grand theft for possessing the stolen firearm, which was the subject of the taped interview with McDonald.

“Given the fact that he’s already pleaded guilty, it’s highly prejudicial,” Payne said.

First District Judge Lansing Haynes said the issue had already been argued and that he ruled prosecutors could show the video to establish motive for the Moore shooting.

“It’s a well-timed objection, but I’m going to overrule,” Haynes said. “Motive is relevant evidence in a criminal prosecution.”

During the interview, Renfro at one point said: “I don’t want to talk to cops. My natural inclination is, the cops want to talk to me, I’m leaving town,” he said.

McDonald asked about the pistol, which was stolen from a man’s car.

“Every bullet that’s in that gun is another five years,” Renfro said. “If I find out where it is, I’ll call you guys. Once again, I will not go near firearms.”

Seven days later, Moore was killed and his service pistol was taken from his body as he struggled to breathe. Moore’s stolen gun was found under the same semi-trailer near Stateline where officers apprehended Renfro.

Prosecutors are expected to finish their death-penalty case on Monday.

Haynes told the jury that the defense will not start its case until Oct. 10. Defense experts were not scheduled to arrive until then because prosecutors were expected to take much longer to present their case, he said.

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