The gun and shell casings at the scene were “strange,” says the police officer at the attorney’s murder trial

The police investigator who searched James Ray’s Montclair home the night police discovered the bullet-riddled body of Angela Bledsoe said he noticed two things unusual at the scene.

Essex County District Attorney’s Office crime scene investigator Frank Ricci testified Wednesday at Ray’s murder trial in Newark. He told the jury he saw no blood on the top of the 9mm pistol, which had been found in a pool of clotted blood next to Bledsoe’s body on the kitchen floor of the stately home on North Mountain Avenue.

“I thought it was odd that there was no blood on that firearm,” Ricci said toward the end of his second day on the Superior Court witness stand. Ricci never explained his reasons to the jury when the defense disagreed, but he seemed to conclude that if Bledsoe pointed a gun at him when Ray shot her at point-blank range, blood spattered on the gun.

Ricci told the jury that he also found it odd that three .45 shell casings that police found at the scene were found lined up on the living room coffee table, alongside three other firearms that Ray claims he owned back then the gunfight cleaned up.

“I find it very unusual that all three shell casings were lined up next to each other,” Ricci told the jury before leaving the witness stand. Ricci added that during his long career in law enforcement, he’s examined “hundreds” of crime scenes, but never seen shell casings lined up so neatly.

After Ricci left the booth, the state introduced Antonio Badim, the ballistics expert who examined the shell casings found at the crime scene. Badim testified that the cartridge cases were all fired from the same .45 pistol, although Ray allegedly disposed of the gun after firing and it was not found.

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Prosecutors allege that Ray, a Marine Corps veteran and former NYPD police officer, shot Bledsoe multiple times with a .45 automatic pistol on the first floor of the home on the morning of October 22, 2018. Bledsoe, a successful financial adviser, was about to move out with the couple’s six-year-old daughter, the state claims.

On the morning of her death, Bledsoe was looking for a new home and had an appointment with a real estate agent at 11:30 a.m. Montclair police officers, who discovered the woman’s body about 12 hours later, found that a clock had fallen off the wall into the kitchen sink and stopped at 11:14 a.m.

Ray’s defense is that Bledsoe was having an affair and he was cleaning his guns on the living room coffee table that morning when the couple started fighting. Ray, who kept a diary detailing the shootings admitted into evidence, alleges that during an argument Bledsoe took a 9mm pistol and pointed it at him, and that he shot her in self-defense.

Ray then wrote a note to his brother Robert detailing the shooting and declaring his intention to flee the country. Ray slipped the note into his daughter’s suitcase and took the girl to his brother’s at a steakhouse in Piscataway later that day.

Ray then fled to the Texas border, where he crossed into Mexico and boarded a plane to Havana, Cuba. He was arrested by Cuban authorities six days after the shooting and handed over to US Marshals.

Ray, 60, was charged with murder and has been held in the Essex County Correctional Facility ever since. If convicted, he faces a maximum of life imprisonment.

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Richard Cowen can be reached at [email protected].