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Witness claims Ricky Woods Jr. admitted to killing victim in murder trial

During the third day of testimony, a witness claimed Ricky Woods Jr. admitted to killing Jamal Mathis in 2015.

During the third day of testimony, a witness claimed Ricky Woods Jr. admitted to killing Jamal Mathis in 2015.

David Drake, a friend of Mathis and convicted felon, testified that when he and Woods were transferred to the Elmira Correctional Facility in July of 2016, Woods threatened him and admitted to killing Mathis.

"Basically he told me that he's going to catch me and basically do what he did to my man, whatever that is," Drake said.

He said the alleged admission and threat happened when Drake was in a line with other inmates waiting to get to the dining hall and passed by Woods' cell.  Woods claims he was not allowed to interact with other inmates because of a recent fight he was involved in. But Drake alleged that Woods could still speak with others even though he was separated.

The defense attorney, Devin Garramone questioned the timing of Drake's testimony.

"This is the first time you ever mentioned anything about this?" said Garramone, asking Drake.

Drake said he didn't think the information was relevant. Garramone retorted that Drake didn't think the information was relevant concerning the murder of his supposed best friend. Drake simply replied "right."

Drake said it was the first time he mentioned the interaction because no one had asked him before if he had ever spoken with Woods.

Todd Carville, an assistant district attorney, asked Drake if he had ever testified for this case before, Drake said he had not.

This is the second trial for Woods since a mistrial was declared last November, because a jury could not determine if he was guilty or not guilty on the murder charge. But the jury did find Woods not guilty on weapons charges.

Dr. Charles Catanese, a forensic pathologist who was working with the Onondaga Medical Examiner's Office at the time of the murder also testified.

Catanese explained in detail the gruesome way Mathis died.

"The bullet penetrated the body in that region and caused a fracture of the ninth rib that perforated the middle lobe of the right lung," he said. "The bullet then exited the chest cavity in the front part of the chest. There was 1900 cc of blood in the right thoracic cavity from that wound... it's very significant it's just about what you'd see in a two liter bottle of soda."

Catanese also explained that there was no gun shot residue found on Mathis' body, which he said means the shooter had to be at least 24 inches away. On cross examination Garramone asked Catanese if the shirt and sweatshirt Mathis was wearing could have prevented the gun shot residue from appearing on Mathis' body, Catanese said that was possible.

Assistant District Attorney Steven Feiner then asked Catanese about the time frame of Mathis' death after he was shot.

"The trauma was pretty significant to the lungs, it depends on so many different things, like how active he was." he said. "For instance if he was running his heart would have beat faster and more blood would have left his body and then he would have been compromised by the loss of the function of the lung. Just to give an idea I would say minutes would be the most accurate I could do."

Catanese also testified that Mathis had a blood alcohol content of 1.6 percent, twice the legal limit to drive. He said Mathis also had small amounts of marijuana and chemicals found in the illegal drug known as bath salts.

Matthew Kurimsky, firearms examiner at Onondaga County Crime Lab in Syracuse, testified about the bullets, bullet casings and ammunition involved in the case. Kurimsky said the bullet recovered from Mathis' body and another bullet sent to him by the Utica Police Department connected to the case were fired from the same gun and were the same make of bullets. Both of those bullets also matched the live ammunition found at 1169 Leeds Street. But he could not confirm that the bullet recovered from Mathis' chest was from the same cartridges found at the home.

Testimony continues at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the Oneida County Courthouse.

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