There was no hesitation in Dr. Adel Shaker’s voice. Either of the gunshot wounds Mark Caudill suffered the morning of Feb. 16 would have been fatal alone.
“Undoubtedly, this is a fatal wound by itself,” Shaker said of the gunshot wound to the neck. He said the same of the one to the head.
The second day of the Elbow Room Lounge murder trial included testimony from a forensic pathologist, a man who said he was in the Elbow Room Lounge at the time of the first gunshot and Shaker, a medical examiner and expert in anatomical and forensic pathology.
Shaker was the final witness to take the stand Tuesday for the prosecution. He told the court where each bullet entered the bodies of Caudill and James Bennett Mann II, but he said it is impossible to give the sequence of the bullets.
According to Shaker, Caudill received two gunshot wounds and Mann received three. Both of Caudill’s wounds were fatal, Shaker said, while one of Mann’s was fatal; another was not fatal; a third possibly was fatal.
Caudill, 33, of Birmingham, Ala., and Mann, 42, of Columbus, both died from a Nov. 16 shooting at the Elbow Room, a bar in downtown Columbus. Daniel Paul Copple, 44, of 31725 Kingly St. in Lucerne Valley, Calif., is charged with two counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault from the incident. Court documents state Caudill had a gun inside the bar, he and Copple engaged in an altercation and Mann tried to intervene.
Shaker testified the two bullets entered the left side of Caudill’s neck and exited through his left temple. Bullets entered Mann’s right temple, chest and forearm. Only the wound to the temple region, he said, was the surefire fatal wound. He identified the wound to the right forearm as “consistent to defensive posture,” meaning Mann might have had his arm up to shield his face or head.
Shaker also said Caudill received an injury to the top of the head from blunt force trauma.
During cross-examination, defense attorney Steve Wallace asked Shaker about the victims’ blood-alcohol content, as well as Caudill’s drug intake. Both were drinking the night of Feb. 15 at the Elbow Room, and Caudill had a blood-alcohol content of 0.24 ; Mann had a blood-alcohol content of 0.10, both above the legal limit for driving. According to Shaker, Caudill also had a prescription drug in his body, which Shaker said was one that would sedate someone.
“Many people who have those prescription drugs don’t listen to physicians and go drink,” he said, noting Mann did not have any sort of drugs in his body.
Wallace also asked Shaker if the gunshot wounds the two victims received could have come from a struggle. Shaker acknowledged the possibility.
Two Columbus patrol officers testified Tuesday; one recounted finding Copple and taking him into custody. The other was the first officer to enter the Elbow Room on the night in question.
Kenneth Brewer was in the area of Eighth Street North near Main Street at around 12:40 a.m. when he heard a call about shots fired at the bar. He was with Cpl. Barry Goode and one other officer, he said. When they arrived, they noticed a gun lying in the middle of the 100 block of Fifth Street North and then saw a white male.
“We ordered the subject to the ground and Cpl. Goode walked up and handcuffed him,” he said, noting the man complied. “At first he acted normal. When he was placed into the back seat of my car, he became irate.”
Patrolman Lamar Peacock responded in a separate unit and arrived at the bar at around 12:45 a.m. He said he was with Sgt. Glynn Culpepper.
“I found the body that was later identified as Mark Caudill face down,” Peacock said, noting Mann was sitting near or on Caudill’s body with his back facing the east wall.
“He was still gasping for air, Mr. Mann was.”
Peacock also found Elbow Room bartender Michael Ward, who he said was terrified.
“I tried to ask him if he was OK, and he kept saying, ‘He tried to shoot me,'” Peacock said.
Day two of the trial began with a cross-examination of Monday’s only witness. Wallace asked Elbow Room bartender Michael Ward about contradictions between a statement Ward made July 20 that Copple was holding the gun in his right hand compared with his recent testimony that he held the gun in his left hand.
Wallace also asked if he had been drinking that night.
“I absolutely had a beer with Bennett, and I might have had another,” Ward said in response, noting he believes he consumed two beers.
Ward testified Monday that Caudill entered the bar with a gun and showed it to Ward, who then asked Caudill to put it away and leave. Ward said Tuesday that Caudill adhered to the request and was “unusually calm.” When Caudill returned to the Elbow Room, Ward did not ask him if he still had the firearm.
Al Comer, who works at Old Hickory steakhouse in Columbus and worked part time at the Elbow Room in February, testified that he went to Zachary’s after work and then to the Elbow Room to help Ward. After being in there for a short time, he saw Copple in some sort of scuffle with Caudill.
“There was no gun out that I saw,” he said.
However, as he was about to separate them, he said he heard a gunshot.
“I got out,” he said, noting he immediately returned to Zachary’s.
“I went inside. Someone was at the bar, and I told them there was a shooting at the Elbow Room. I said, ‘Lock the door and get everyone inside.'”
Wallace again asked if Comer saw a gun during the incident. Comer said he took his glasses off at that time but did not see a weapon and does not know who had the gun when the first shot was fired.
Two people who were working at Zachary’s at the time of the shooting also testified Tuesday. Summer Stovall, of Nashville, Tenn., was living in Columbus at the time of the incident and told the court that Comer came into the business and informed her of a shooting at the Elbow Room. Stovall said she then heard three or four more gunshots. Jeremy Eakin, of Columbus, also testified that he heard three or four gunshots. Both said they later saw a man walking east on Second Avenue North and then south on Fifth Street North.
The trial continues today in Lowndes County Circuit Court before Judge Jim Kitchens.