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Geologist: Rocks found in Edwin Lawing's boot 'visually consistent' with site where body found

Posted February 26, 2016

A pair of rock fragments found in boots that belonged to the man charged in the 1996 murder a Shaw University student were consistent with rocks taken from the area where the victim’s body was found, according to a geologist who testified Friday.

Geologist Heather Hanna examined two small rock fragments found under a flap of worn rubber on the sole of a pair of boots owned by Edwin Lawing. Lawing is charged with the murder of Lacoy McQueen, a 20-year-old student whose remains were found nine months after she was reported missing in May 1996.

The rock fragments, Hanna said, were visually consistent with samples of rock taken from a site just off Highway 1 near Kittrell where McQueen’s remains were found.

“Saying (the rocks are) visually consistent with each other means that my interpretation is that they were both from the same area,” Hanna said. “They are strikingly, visually consistent. They look a lot alike.”

Hanna, considered an expert witness, said a rugged “Jeep trail” led from the highway to a clearing used for power lines. The clearing and the trail were scattered with rock fragments. Those fragments found at the site had the same coloring, minerals and wear patterns as the fragments taken from Lawing’s boots, Hanna said.

Lawing’s defense presented a geological map that outlined a 600-square-mile area that had the same type of rock as the site where McQueen’s body was found, though Hanna said the large area did not change her opinion.

Norm Grodi, a retired Raleigh police detective who investigated the case, also testified on Friday that he was sure Lawing was responsible for McQueen’s death almost 20 years ago. Grodi said he tried to talk with Lawing, but the defendant refused on multiple occasions.

“The only logical conclusion based upon the evidence we have is that Christopher Lawing is responsible for the death of Lacoy McQueen,” Grodi said.

Grodi and the Raleigh Police Department collected McQueen’s remains and sent them to be tested for DNA. Lawing's attorneys, though, painted Grodi as an overzealous cop who zeroed in on Lawing and didn't consider other suspects.

Lawing was a student at N.C. State at the time of the murder, and he was initially arrested in the case. Prosecutors later dismissed a murder charge against him because of lack of evidence.

Evidence was tested again in 2014 using technology that was unavailable to investigators in the 1990s. Lawing charged with McQueen’s murder again in December 2014.

After Hanna's testimony, the state rested and the defense said it would not present any evidence in the case.

The trial will continue on Monday with closing arguments.

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  • Jim Hinnant Feb 26, 2016
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    "Yep. They look like rocks to me."