Law enforcement takes the stand in the Absolu trial

RAPID CITY, S.D. – On Wednesday, the murder trial of Arnson Absolu, accused of three counts of first-degree murder, continued with more law enforcement specialists taking the stand. Absolu is accused of killing Ashley Nagy, Charles Redwillow and Dakota Zaiser in August and September 2020.

The day started with Derek Mann, Crash Reconstructionist for the Rapid City Police Department, describing how he used forensic mapping to accurately map the crime scene where Dakota Zaiser’s body was located. Mann explained that forensic mapping uses a computer system to document physical evidence. It’s a much faster and more accurate way to physically measure points at the crime scene. Zaiser’s body was found a little over 100 feet from Sheridan Lake Road.

RCPD Officer and Canine Handler, Garrett Mastin, testified that he had arrested Dakota Zaiser for a felony arrest warrant on August 15, 2020, ten days before the murders of Nagy and Redwillow. The prosecution concentrated on what Zaiser was wearing at the time of arrest. Mastin also acknowledged that when someone is arrested, they often wear the same clothes when released as they had on when arrested.

Steven Cohan, a detective for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force in New York City, described to the jury how Absolu was found and arrested in New York City. Using a license plate reading system, Cohan was able to ascertain that the 2017 Chevy Malibu thought to be driven by Absolu was spotted in the South Bronx/Manhattan area on August 30 and August 31 2020. On September 3, 2020, Absolu’s vehicle was located and Absolu was detained and arrested. On September 8, a search was conducted of the vehicle. A police canine showed positive indicators of firearms and narcotics. After searching the engine compartment, two black bags were found. One near the left wheel well contained what was suspected to be heroin. Later testimony from a forensic chemist with the RCPD identified the substance to contain fentanyl with preliminary results including tramadol and lidocaine. The second black bag found near the right wheel well contained a handgun.

The morning testimonies concluded with Tim Appel, a Forensic Media Specialist with the RCPD, educating the jury in regards to the surveillance films that were collected in conjunction with the investigation. Appel went over the locations where the surveillance footage was collected which included Thomson Park, residential videos, Deals 4 U, Big D, Casey’s Auto Rental, Stumer Road Apartments, and the Rapid City Regional Airport. Additionally, Appel repeatedly pointed out that any manipulation performed to enhance the quality and clarity of the footage does not in any way alter the footage.

If Absolu is convicted, he will not face the death penalty, but could be facing life in prison.

Categories: Crime, Local News