Zion Foster murder case: Jaylin Brazier in court on Thursday for day three of testimony

The murder trial of Jaylin Brazier will resume Thursday morning in Wayne County as he's charged with killing his cousin, Zion Foster, in 2022 and then dumping her body.

Seven witnesses testified on Wednesday for the prosecution, in addition to the five witnesses who testified on Tuesday. Here's a recap of Wednesday's testimony.

Brazier's trial started with jury selection on Monday and opening statements started on Tuesday. You can watch our gavel-to-gavel coverage in the player above, on FOX2Detroit.com, and FOX 2's YouTube channel.

Wayne County is represented by assistant prosecutor Ryan Elsey while Brazier is represented by Brian Brown.

4:10 p.m. - Court adjourns for the day

A total of 17 witnesses have testified thus far with more expected on Friday. 

Trial resumes at 1:30 Friday afternoon.

2:28 p.m. - Steven Ford, DPD Detective

After a brief court break, Detroit Police Detective Steven Ford was called to the witness stand. Ford's work in the police department is to extract video evidence linked to crimes.

Elsey replayed the neighbor's doorbell video from across the street from Brazier's home on Greenfield. Ford testified about video obtained in the investigation.

Ford also discussed the Macomb County landfill that police searched in 2022 as they tried to find Foster's remains. The prosecution played video of Brazier arriving at the dumpster where he put Foster's remains – as well as a truck that they believed carried those contents to the Macomb County landfill.

Ford was also questioned about a phone call that Brazier made from jail – where Brazier was urged to find a new attorney by his girlfriend and his mom. In the call, both women can be heard saying that he needed a new attorney.

Brown fought against having the phone call admitted at all. The judge excused the jury, played the tape in court without the jury present, and then decided to allow the call to be played but ordered the jury not to be swayed by rumors that the women claimed on the call that his attorney was not working in his best interests.

1:50 p.m. - Erica St. Clair - Forensic scientist testifies

The 16th witness called to testify for the prosecution is Erica St. Clair. She works for the Michigan State Police in Grand Rapids to analyze samples in hopes of obtaining a DNA profile to make comparisons with reference samples.

St. Clair testified she was not able to obtain a DNA profile or connect any items from inside the car.

1:05 p.m. - MSP forensic scientist Mikehl S. Hafner

After an hour-long lunch break, Elsey called MSP forensic scientist Mikehl Hafner to the stand. 

Hafner was established as an expert before asking about his involvement in the Foster case. He analyzed the items found in Brazier's car, Foster's toothbrush, and more.

Hafner testified that he tested the trunk liner for blood and saliva – but they were all negative. 

He also collected multiple strands of hair from throughout the car.

In all of his searches, he didn't find any DNA of Foster inside of Brazier's car.

12:00 p.m. Court break for lunch

11:23 a.m. - Adam Ayriss FBI special agent testifies

The FBI's Adam Ayriss was called next, and he testified about the search of Brazier's car in Eastpointe on Jan. 19, 2022.

He testified they searched the car that afternoon for DNA or trace evidence in the vehicle. In the search of the car, which was done after the police cadaver dog searched it, Ayriss said his team used special lights to search the car and there was no detection of blood.

He then walked through the 56 photos taken of the vehicle as they searched it – including everything in the front seat, back seat, and trunk.

He stated there was no DNA found in the car.

During cross-examination, Ayriss said, that due to the nature of the car being messy, there was no evidence the car had been cleaned out. He said he wasn't told to use Luminol so it wasn't used. 

11:07 a.m. - MSP homicide detective Beatrice Terrell called to testify

The next witness to testify for the prosecution was MSP Detective Beatrice Terrell, who was an investigator in the missing person's case of Foster.

Terrell testified she was searching the dumpsters on Jan. 19, 2022, in Highland Park where Brazier said he disposed of his cousin's body. She also had body cam footage of the seizure of his girlfriend's phone as well as the location of the dumpster where Brazier dumped Foster's body.

9:51 a.m. - Court resumes

With the jury and all parties back in court, Detroit Police Sgt. Shannon Jones was called back to the stand and the video that was being played on Wednesday resumed. 

The video was from the interview Brazier did with police and he explained when he found Foster had stopped breathing after they smoked weed together.

"I got up and I went to get something to drink. I came back and she said she was tired, and things laid her head so I can let her go to sleep or whatever. And then 15 to 20 minutes after, I say, okay, are you good to go home? And she wasn't responding," Brazier said. "It was her plan to go back home that night. She said she had work in the morning."

Brazier said he was freaking out that Foster had died.

He then explained what he did next: backing his car into the driveway and loading her body into his drunk before driving to the Highland Park parking lot and throwing her body in a dumpster.

Additionally, in the interview, Brazier told police that the glass table in the back of the house broke during an argument he had with his girlfriend, before Foster's death. 

What happened to Zion Foster?

Foster was last seen by her mom, Ciera Milton, on Jan. 4, 2022.

Milton said Foster was picked up by her cousin at his home in Detroit to smoke marijuana. Milton said Foster texted her later saying she was coming home, but never did. When she started searching and couldn't find her, she went to Eastpointe Police and then Detroit Police, who eventually went to Brazier's home in Detroit and talked to him. 

Foster's phone last pinged in Detroit – which is what prompted Detroit Police to show up at Brazier's door.

Milton recalls Brazier telling her "he hadn’t seen or been in contact with her 'for three years' which is impossible when you were in my driveway and gave me a hug."

Milton said Brazier showed her surveillance footage, but there were gaps in the recordings. She filled in those gaps from a Ring doorbell camera that showed someone believed to be Brazier picking up Foster at her house in Eastpointe the night of her disappearance and bringing her back to his house.

Then, she said, she and others searched the area around Brazier's home.

"That prompted me to go to Jaylin's house. We searched the neighborhood, we looked through abandoned houses, we looked through dumpsters," she said.

Brazier was arrested a few days after Foster disappeared. He was initially arrested for lying to police during the investigation and ultimately pleaded no contest, as part of a plea deal. 

"I was on panic mode ever since that happened," Brazier said in court in 2022. "Her mother at one point talked to me, and I couldn't bring myself to (tell her) 'Your daughter just died.' What do I do?"

In March 2022, Brazier admitted to lying to Eastpointe Police about the investigation. 

"I can't even explain it, what happened. I can just tell you my honest reaction," Brazier claimed in court in March 2022. "One minute she was cool, she was fine. She laid back for a minute and the next thing I knew she was just dead. I don't know what caused it, I did not cause it."

Detroit Police Department spent several months in 2022 picking through tons of trash at a Macomb County landfill, but Foster's body was never found. The search was ultimately called off in October 2022.

'He threw her in a dumpster'

Brazier's story changed wildly over the first few months of the investigation. He first said that he didn't know where she was before ultimately admitting they had been together and that she had died with him as they were smoking marijuana. He then later said he put her body in a dumpster. 

"He said that my baby just died, and then that he threw her in a dumpster, like she was trash," Foster's mom said.

He did not say that he killed her.

"I reacted stupidly off of fear and panic like I've never felt before in my life," he said in court during his sentencing for the initial charge of lying to police.

Detroit Police then spent the summer of 2022 searching through a Macomb County landfill as that's where it was believed her body ultimately would have been when the dumpster was emptied. After several months of searching, they were unable to find her remains or evidence of her remains.

But a year after the search, in June 2023, Brazier was charged with her murder but maintained his innocence.

Milton said she did not believe Brazier.

"It wasn't too long ago that I saw you and even knowing that my baby had been in contact with him, I kept going to his house. I just wanted him to tell me the truth," said Milton.

In March 2022, he was sentenced to between 23 months to 4 years in prison.

Brazier's release and charges

In January 2023, Brazier was released from custody after completing just 10 months of his sentence. The 23-year-old completed a 90-day Special Incarceration Program - essentially a boot camp program - which granted his release. 

In August 2023, Brazier returned to a Wayne County courtroom for his preliminary hearing, which stretched over two days. 

He sat in court emotionless during the hearing as details emerged about Zion’s bank accounts and text messages — prosecutors say — Brazier shared with his girlfriend.

One of those messages included a link to a Google search that questioned if someone could be charged for murder if a body isn't discovered.

After two days of testimony, Brazier was bound over for trial.