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.
COOPERSTOWN – Video evidence, District Attorney John Muehl said, placed accused arsonist Gabriel Truitt inside his Tru Cuts Barber Shop at 4:30 a.m. the night of the fire that killed John Heller.
“He walks in the back door, turns to the right and squats in front of a cabinet,” Muehl said in his opening remarks. “He lights a lighter, takes out two bottles, puts them in his pocket and walks out.”
Those bottles, Muehl told the jury, were isopropyl alcohol.
COOPERSTOWN – Just before the noon break, District Attorney John Muehl brought Bill Haynes, an origin and cause investigator with Sotera Investigative Group, to the witness stand in the case against Gabriel Truitt, the Oneonta man accused of setting the fire that killed John Heller at his 5 Walling Avenue apartment in December 2018.
“The way the burn and char pattern on the inside of the door,” – of Apartment C on the second floor of the building – “indicated a liquid was splashed there,” he said.
District Attorney John Muehl, above, makes his opening remarks to the jury during the opening day of the People Vs. Gabriel Truitt, now underway at the Otsego County Courthouse in Cooperstown. Truitt, seen at right, is charged with arson in the first degree and murder in the first and second degree for his alleged involvement in the fire that claimed the life of John Heller at 5 Walling Ave. in Oneonta on Dec 29, 2018. Check back throughout the day for developments in this case. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
ONEONTA – NYSEG is scheduled to perform emergency transformer repairs this afternoon on Market Street, shutting off power to the south side of Main Street from Grand Street to the Otsego County Office Building, and the entirety of South Main Street, according to a message sent by City Hall.
Devin K. Castillo, 19, Walton was arrested in Sidney Center after troopers received a complaint of a car rolled over on Main Street in Sidney Center at 3:36 a.m. on Saturday, Jan 11. When troopers arrived, they saw that four cars had been damaged, as well as a utility pole.
ONEONTA – State Police are seeking three males who allegedly vandalized the craft and fabric aisle of the Oneonta Walmart, according to Trooper Aga Dembinska, Troop C Public Information Officer.
At 8:33 p.m., a trooper was dispatched to Walmart after employees reported that three suspicious males damaged the craft and fabric aisle with craft paint around 7:14 p.m. The three then reportedly left the store through the grocery entrance then tried to enter Office Max, but were unable to enter and did not cause any damage.
Johnson allegedly crossed the highway in an area not marked for pedestrians and was struck by a car driven by David Shafer, 41, Otsego. She was taken by ambulance to Fox Hospital and transferred to Albany Medical Center, where she was admitted to the intensive care unit.
ONEONTA – Police are on the scene of a motor vehicle accident on the James F. Lettis Highway after a pedestrian was allegedly hit by a car this evening.
According to Rob O’Brien, Otsego Count 911 director, a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle near the I-88 Exit 15 westbound off-ramp at 7:42 p.m. The pedestrian was transported to Fox Hospital with serious injuries.
The ramp and Lettis Highway have been closed, and police are asking that the public avoid the area. The accident is under investigation.
GUILFORD – Two Sullivan County residents were victims in the Christmas Day crash here, just over the Chenango County line from the Town of Unadilla.
The passenger, William T. Brett, 73, an IBM retiree, was killed. The driver, Patricia House, 78, was hospitalized, according to Troop C, Sidney. Both are from Kenoza Lake, 15 miles northwest of Monticello.