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Rayon Braxton's mom collapses after pathologist describes gunshots that killed him

Dereasha Leaks kept her composure Tuesday afternoon as a forensic pathologist described the seven gunshots that killed her 24-year-old son, Rayon Braxton.

But as soon as Judge John F. Cherry called a recess in the Dauphin County murder trial Tuesday afternoon, Leaks collapsed in heaving, unchecked sobs.

She wasn’t alone.

Other members of Braxton’s family who have been watching the trial of Jerren Stuckey, the Susquehanna Township man accused of Braxton’s November 2015 slaying in Harrisburg, also huddled in grief in the hallway outside Cherry’s third-floor courtroom.

Yet worse was to come.

When the trial resumed, Chief Deputy District Attorney Johnny Baer began displaying photographs of the murder scene on a screen for the jury. One of the photos showed Braxton’s corpse lying face-down in a pool of blood.

That elicited a loud, painful collective groan from Braxton’s kin.

Baer is seeking a first-degree murder conviction and life prison sentence for the 26-year-old Stuckey. The prosecutor claims Stuckey killed Braxton at his business, Braxton Hall in the former Big Ugly Warehouse building on Carlisle Street, over a bad debt.

Rayon Braxton 

Dr. Wayne Ross, the pathologist, testified that Braxton was shot once from the front and six times from behind. One shot was at close-rage to the right side of Braxton’s face, he said. Ross said Braxton also was shot in the back of the head, the right jaw, the left upper chest, the upper right arm, the forearm and the right side of his back..

Three of those wounds would have been fatal, Ross said when questioned by Deputy District Attorney Kristie Falbo. He testified that two bullets were recovered from Braxton’s body.

Karen Lyda, a forensic investigator with the city police, said seven empty .40 caliber shell casings and five spent bullets were recovered at the slaying scene. So were four unfired rounds, she said. One spent bullet was found in the hood of Braxton’s jacket.

When police found his body, Braxton was lying on top of a mop, Lyda said, and was gripping its handle with both hands.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney George Matangos, Lyda said Braxton had more than $300 in cash in his pockets.

Trooper Todd Neumyer, a state police firearms examiner, said the live rounds, spent bullets and shell casings Lyda recovered all seem to have been fired from the same unknown pistol. Police did not recover the gun that killed Braxton.

Baer called Detective Richard Gibney as a witness to walk the jury through videos taken by security cameras at a veterans home and a church near Braxton Hall.

The veteran’s home video shows a Volkswagen with a burned-out headlight and a missing hubcap driving down Carlisle Street toward Braxton Hall before the slaying, then speeding by in reverse with its lights off just after the shooting. Gibney said investigators traced that car to Stuckey’s girlfriend, who is the daughter of Braxton’s step-father.

A jacket police recovered from the back seat of that car tested positive for gunshot residue, investigators claim.

The trial is to resume Wednesday morning.

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