February 22, 2017

WEST PALM BEACH — The lead detective in the May 2012 shooting death of Seth Adams by Palm Beach County sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Custer didn’t know how many bullets had been taken out of the 24-year-old’s body, wasn’t clear about what injuries Adams suffered and admitted he didn’t read a report from a blood-spatter expert the sheriff hired to plumb Custer’s claims.

When asked Tuesday how three bullet casings could have ended up behind Adams’ pickup truck if, as Custer claims, the officer fired when Adams wheeled out of the cab, Detective Christopher Neuman said there were various possibilities.

“They could have been kicked there. They could have been picked up by the wheel of a tire,” he told a federal jury deciding a multi-million lawsuit Adams’ parents filed against Custer and the sheriff’s office. “I don’t know why they were there.”

Neuman’s testimony came after a crime scene investigator painted a chilling picture of how Lydia Adams learned that her son was dead. Investigator Julie Ann Brandt said she was taking photographs and DNA swabs of Adams, who was lying naked on a gurney after he died in surgery at St. Mary’s Medical Center, when she heard the door behind her open.

“I heard a female voice behind me that I can only describe as a wail,” Brandt testified.

As Lydia Adams rushed toward her son, Brandt said she stepped in front of the grief-stricken mother. “No. No,” Brandt said she told Lydia Adams, pushing her away from the gurney. “This isn’t going to happen.”

She denied allegations by attorney Wallace McCall, who is representing Adams’ parents, that she threw Lydia Adams to the floor. Lydia Adams, she said, collapsed.

But Brandt said she may have told Lydia Adams, “He’s evidence.”

“It’s not an untrue statement,” Brandt said. After pulling back a curtain, she said she called a sheriff’s deputy to keep family members away. “I needed to continue working and didn’t need any further interaction with them,” she said.

After she was done, she said Seth Adams’ body was taken to the medical examiner’s office by a “body removal service” before the family could see him.

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