Brother Refutes Grand Jury, Police Testimony


Brother Disavows

Testimony He Gave

Grand Jury, Police

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

The accused, Gabriel Truitt, center, listens as his brother Terrence testifies this afternoon. With him are legal assistant Lisa Harvey and Attorney David Taylor. (Libby Cudmore/

COOPERSTOWN – Gabriel Truitt’s defense lawyers this afternoon declared they hadn’t been provided a videotape of his brother Terrence speaking with OPD officers in February 2018 brought the fatal-arson trial to a temporary standstill this afternoon.

Terrence also told the court the testimony he would give would be at odds with the statements he gave to grand jury and police, further muddying the waters.  “He had a sworn affidavit saying he lied,” said District Attorney John Muehl.

County Judge Brian Burns advised the brother he may have already committed perjury and that he did have the right to remain silent, as well as a chance to get a lawyer.

After a 20-minute recess, where Terrence conferred with a lawyer provided him, he took the witness stand.

“Would you say you’re protective of your brother?” Muehl asked.

“Of course,” he responded.

He told the jury that picked up Gabriel from the OPD station, where he was held after after being  arrested for fighting outside of the Sip & Sail Tavern, and that the two went to the Red Apple  quick stop for cigarettes. “He was upset that he couldn’t find his keys,” said Terrence.

“Do you remember telling police that he was upset over fighting with Heather Engler?” Meuhl asked.

“I did not tell you that,” Terrence said. “You are lying.”

Muehl attempted to show the video of the interview, but Public Defender Michael Trossett objected, saying he hadn’t been provided with the video.

“Their certificate of compliance indicated the video had been sent,” said Burns. “I can’t understand how on Day Six” — three days of testimony, plus jury selection – “of this trial, you’re claiming you haven’t seen it.”

The jury was dismissed for the day, and the tape was made available to the defense. Terrence’s testimony will resume Tuesday morning.

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