Trial begins for Pennsylvania man charged in shooting

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   The state presented its case Tuesday during the first day of trial for a Pennsylvania man charged with the August 2002 shooting death of Billie Joe "Bill" Street, Hampton. Loy Dale Linaweaver is charged with second degree murder and felony evading arrest on an amended indictment.
   Linaweaver allegedly shot Street on Aug. 1, 2002. Street died from his injuries just over a month later on Sept. 7 at the Johnson City Medical Center. Linaweaver was originally charged with attempted second degree murder, but the charge was upgraded after Street died.
   According to police reports, officers responded to a call at Streets Trailer Park off of Rittertown Road around 9 p.m. Linaweaver allegedly argued with Randall Street, the son of Bill Street, and threatened him. Linaweaver then reportedly fired a shot at Randall Street with a handgun. At that time, Randall Street jumped off the porch and tried to take cover, and his father then stepped onto the porch and was shot in the abdomen.
   Linaweaver fled the scene in a light brown van and was pursued by Carter County Sheriff's Department officers. The van eventually stopped, and Linaweaver ran away on foot, while a passenger in the van who had been shot in the arm, Carl Irick, stepped out of the vehicle.
   The search to find Linaweaver lasted more than an hour, and CCSD K-9 Sgt. Kabor and his handler CCSD Deputy Sarah Ryan had to be called in to help locate him. Irick was not charged in the incident.
   Assistant District Attorney Ken Baldwin called 12 witnesses to the stand, including law enforcement officers, Street's family members and a forensics expert. Baldwin also submitted as evidence the handgun investigators allege Linaweaver shot Street with, a Taurus .38-caliber revolver.
   The handgun became a major subject of interest as defense attorney Gene Scott questioned law enforcement officers and a Tennessee Bureau of Investigations special agent as to whether any finger print testing had been done on the weapon. TBI Special Agent Don Carman, a forensic firearms identification specialist who examined the gun after it was sent to the TBI crime lab in Nashville, stated he did not perform fingerprint testing on the weapon.
   At the time of Linaweaver's arrest, the handgun was not found on his person or in his vehicle but was found the next day along U.S. Highway 19E, according to reports, where investigators allege it was thrown from the vehicle Linaweaver was driving. According to testimony in court, Irick advised investigators where they could find the firearm.
   Despite the fact that the defense claims that the prosecution has failed to establish a link between Linaweaver and the weapon, Carman testified to the jury that he is 100 percent sure that the handgun which was found is the gun that was used to shoot Street. "If I had any doubt in my mind I would not make a conclusive statement like that," he said.
   Carman told the jury that each firearm has a unique "mechanical signature" that allows investigators to compare a bullet recovered from the scene of a crime with other bullets fired from the suspected weapon to see if they match.
   The defense is slated to present its case to the jury and closing arguments from both sides are scheduled to be heard this morning.