- Associated Press - Friday, August 15, 2014

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - Additional witnesses have testified in a Fort Dodge man’s murder trial about his alleged involvement in a gang.

A police detective said Thursday in Webster County District Court that tattoos on 28-year-old Derrick McElroy are consistent with those used by members of the Bloods gang, the Messenger reported (http://bit.ly/1pxON7n ). He also said McElroy’s hand position in several photos looks to be signs associated with the gang.

But Detective Mike Stueckrath added during cross examination that the tattoos may not exclusively mean he is a gang member.

“The tattoos that you talked about can have whole new meanings, correct?” defense attorney Charles Kenville asked. “Yes,” Stueckrath said.

Kenville also noted that it’s not illegal to be in a gang, unless illegal activity is involved.

McElroy has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Brandyn Preston, who was shot during a May 2011 party. Preston survived the shooting but was paralyzed from the shoulders down. Police say his death in January 2012 was caused by the injuries.

Kenville said another man is responsible for the shooting.

A woman testified Wednesday that the shooting may have been linked to a gang feud. She later said she didn’t what the feud was about or whether McElroy was involved.

Another man testified Thursday about alleged conversations he had with McElroy about his involvement in the shooting. Kenville asked the witness, a convicted inmate serving time, whether he agreed to release information about the case in exchange for a light sentence. The newspaper did not release the witness’ name for safety reasons.

“The cooperation agreement you signed talked about the fact that you will get a chance to go back in front of the judge at some point, and you will get a chance to get a reduction in time,” Kenville said.

“It’s a possibility,” the witness said.

Assistant Iowa attorney general Doug Hammerand asked the witness if he would lie in court to get out of prison earlier.

“Absolutely not,” the witness said.

___

Information from: The Messenger, http://www.messengernews.net

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