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Testimony opens in murder trial

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A black fanny pack. Eyeglasses. A cell phone and eight .40 caliber shell casings. And a wandering trail of blood.

So appeared the aftermath of a Stone Mountain Holiday Inn Express parking lot after Robert Lovelace, 50, was hauled away by emergency personnel on Aug. 27, 2008, according to testimony in a murder trial for the Jonesboro man accused of fatally shooting him.

Lovelace, a savvy car salesman of more than 20 years, later died at Gwinnett Medical Center. In the parking lot sat the Chevy HHR he'd been driving, with his blood on the driver's door.

Inside the fanny pack Lovelace had been wearing was a loaded .38 Special that hadn't been fired, testified Gwinnett police crime scene specialist Brittany Timmerman. The firearm that spat the shell casings hasn't been recovered, Timmerman said.

Testimony opened Tuesday in the murder trial of Christopher Avery Brown, 35, accused of robbing Lovelace before opening fire in the hotel parking lot.

An investigator learned of Brown's involvement through witness interviews. U.S. Marshals arrested him in his native New York last year.

Brown, represented by attorney Thomas Clegg, donned a bright-white jacket, shaved head and pencil-thin mustache. He faces counts of murder, felony murder, armed robbery and aggravated assault.

Police never divulged the extent of Lovelace and Brown's relationship, or how they may have crossed paths. Assistant District Attorney John Warr said Lovelace had been involved with drugs.

A Lawrenceville woman was arrested in connection with the killing in December 2008. Police charged Charlotte Lynne McDaniel with lying to police, alleging she provided her car to Brown in order to traffic cocaine.

Family and friends in attendance described Lovelace as an all-star car salesman who'd worked at a Griffin dealership the last 12 years, earning repeat customers and a six-figure salary. All withheld their names.

"He was a natural salesman," one friend said. "He had a smile that lit up the room."

Lovelace was unmarried but has a 20-year-old daughter attending Vanderbilt University for pre-med, the friend said. He'd most recently lived in Smyrna, she said.

A hotel manager said at the time Lovelace was not a registered guest at the hotel.

Testimony is expected to resume at 9 a.m. today Warr said evidence in the trial should conclude Thursday.