TRUITT TRIAL: Day 4
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – In his testimony this morning, Terrence Truitt, the older brother of defendant Gabriel Truitt, said he went to 5 Walling Ave. – home of Heather Engler – to help his brother look for the keys he’d lost that night following a fight at the Sip & Sail Tavern.
District Attorney John Meuhl wasn’t buying it.
“The Sip & Sail is the opposite direction of Walling Avenue,” he said. “You went to Heather’s Engler place because you knew what your brother was going to do.”
According to Meuhl, Gabriel left the Tru Cuts Barber Shop at 4:04 a.m. and was seen on the Center Street Deli’s cameras at 4:09 a.m., headed towards Walling Avenue.
By the time Terrence arrived, he testified, the building was already on fire. “I saw people on the fire escape, a woman and some children, and I ran in, but I couldn’t get to the top of the stairs,” he said. “I went to Main Street, flagged someone down and asked if they had a cell phone. They didn’t, so I asked them to drive me to the Speedway.”
“Why didn’t you call them from your phone?” Muehl asked. “We have you on video from the barber shop, putting your phone in your pocket. (That’s) Because you didn’t want to be tied to the scene. You went into the house because you were looking for your brother.”
“Why would I care who called 911?” he replied.
Terrence deferred on several questions, telling Muehl that he “didn’t remember” telling the police that Gabriel was going to 5 Walling Ave. or that when he asked Gabriel if he set the fire, he avoided the question.
Public Defender Michael Trossett, representing Gabriel, asked Terrence if he saw Gabriel at the fire.
“No,” Terrence replied.
“Am I speaking a different language than Mr. Trosset?” Muehl asked on redirect. “Why are you answering his questions and not mine?”
Jurors were then shown a tape of Gabriel Truitt’s interview with Oneonta Police on Dec. 31, 2018, where he claimed it was his brother who left Tru Cuts barber shop, while he stayed inside and waited for a cab. He told police Terrence came back in a cab a short while later, contrasting what Terrence said and what the surveillance footage from the barber shop showed.