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Autopsy report: Russell died after being shot at least eight times

on February 8, 2012

The trauma of at least eight gunshot wounds assured the death of 21-year-old Marcus Russell, a coroner’s examiner testified Tuesday.

“It was the totality of all the gunshot wounds put together,” said Dr. Thomas Rogers, forensic pathologist for the Alameda County Coroner’s Office. “A large amount of internal bleeding caused shock” from which Russell never emerged.

Detailed testimony and graphic autopsy photos dominated proceedings Tuesday in the trial against Joe Blacknell III, a 21-year-old Richmond resident accused of killing Russell, six counts of attempted murder and 15 other felonies over a two day crime-spree in 2009. Blacknell has pleaded not guilty. Public defender Diana Garrido has said that her client has alibis for his whereabouts during the crimes and is the target of a flawed prosecution.

Deputy District Attorney Derek Butts alleges that Blacknell and his crew of Easter Hill Boys gang members hunted Russell for months before driving alongside his grandmother’s Nissan Maxima on I-580 and shooting him to death.

The trial began Jan. 17. The case is expected to wrap by Feb. 23.

Using photographs from the autopsy he performed one day after Russell’s violent death, Rogers testified that the young rap artist was struck with at least eight bullets traveling from the left side of his body toward the right. Russell was driving the Maxima when his killer or killers opened fire from another vehicle that had pulled up on his driver’s side. A female passenger was injured, and she has testified that Blacknell was the shooter.

Russell was hit in the face, the torso, the right forearm and at least four times in his legs.

During later testimony, Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office investigator Jeff Soler testified that analysis of cellular phones seized from Blacknell when he was captured after a brief pursuit Sept. 13, 2009 revealed more than 200 pictures and other data.

In one photo, the words “Beam Team” were imposed on a photo of Blacknell and his associates, Soler testified. The prosecution alleges that Blacknell and his clique of Easter Hill Boys gangmembers dubbed themselves the “Beam Team” in reference to laser sightings they affixed to firearms.

Testimony resumes at 9 a.m. Wednesday. If convicted, Blacknell faces life in prison.

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