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Prosecutors try to connect gun used in killing to suspect

Pima County Sheriff’s Department homicide detective Juan Navarro showed a jury Friday the .45-caliber semiautomatic Ruger handgun prosecutors say Fabian Hernandez used to kill Henry Sherlock on Aug. 16, 2008.

Sherlock, 39, had driven to the Desert Willows trailer park at 6001 S. Palo Verde Blvd., near Benson Highway, to pick up his stepson, who was visiting a friend.

The stepson, Marcos Contreras, 18, and Sherlock’s son, Henry Sherlock Jr., 11, were seated in the vehicle with Sherlock as he drove slowly over a speed bump and out of the trailer park.

Hernandez, then 18, approached the car and fired one shot into Sherlock’s head according to testimony in Hernandez’s first-degree murder trial, which began Thursday.

Sherlock, who was not armed, died at the scene, Navarro said.

However, Sherlock, a driver for Wackenhut, a Border Patrol contractor that transports criminal suspects, had the handgun he wears on the job locked in his trunk, investigators testified.

Prosecutor Kellie Johnson showed jurors Friday bloody photographs of Sherlock’s dead body, still in the driver’s seat with seat belt buckled, slumped to the side.

Hernandez is being tried on one count of first-degree murder for allegedly killing Sherlock. He is also on trial on charges of kidnapping and robbing a woman at gunpoint in the moments after the shooting.

Johnson told the jury that after killing Sherlock, Hernandez moved on to a nearby vehicle in the trailer park, pulling Lottie Payne, 49, out of an SUV and stealing her purse at gunpoint.

Witnesses said Hernandez fled on foot as deputies arrived in response to the shooting.

He was apprehended nearby with the help of a sheriff’s helicopter, which tracked Hernandez with a spotlight, according to testimony by Navarro and sheriff’s detective Christopher Hogan, who arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting.

Several witnesses to the Payne incident identified the assailant as Hernandez, according to court records.

Navarro found the Ruger in a recycling basket at the trailer park, he told the jury Friday.

A photograph of the gun, visible beneath a pile of crushed Bud Light beer cans, was shown to jurors.

Hernandez’s defense lawyers had tried to delay the trial, stating in court documents their client was not able to help with his defense because of unspecified behavior exhibited with his attorneys and previous “suicidal ideation.”

Defense lawyers are trying to exclude cell phone photographs of Hernandez making a profane gesture while holding a gun that appears to be the Ruger used in the shooting.

The photos were in a cell phone detectives found at the trailer park in the hours after the shooting. Prosecutors said the cell phone was used by Hernandez.

Johnson said in court documents she will not introduce as evidence multiple cell phone photos of Hernandez dressed in blue clothing or make any reference to a possible gang affiliation in relation to the killing of Sherlock.

Payne was to be a witness in the trial but she was killed when she was run over on April 8 in an apparently unrelated incident, according to court records.

Prosecutors have asked the court to allow them to use her pretrial statements at trial.

Hernandez’s trial began without an opening statement by the defense. Public defender Kyle Ipson is expected to make that statement after the prosecutor presents the state’s case.

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