HOLIDAY PARADE – 3 p.m. Celebrate the holidays on Main St. Line up at 3, parade at 4. Main St., Oneonta. Visit www.foothillspac.org
TREE FESTIVAL – 3 – 7 p.m. View Christmas Trees beautifully decorated by area individuals, businesses. Production Center, Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. 607-431-2080 or visit www.foothillspac.org
TREE LIGHTING – 5:30 – 8 p.m. Celebrate the lighting of the Christmas Tree in Muller Plaza, Oneonta.
ONEONTA – Gillian Gibbons’ voice was silenced when David Dart stabbed her 42 times in the Oneonta Municipal Parking Garage on Sept. 12, 1984.
But Jennifer Miller Dutcher intends to use hers to keep Dart in prison. “I am a survivor of David Dart,” she said. “I am a victim who has a voice, and I have to share my story.”
She told her story at the “Justice for Gillian” rally Saturday, Sept. 28 in Muller Plaza, standing at the podium besides Gillian’s sister, Jennifer Kirkpatrick, to encourage everyone to write to the state Parole Board and ask them to deny Dart’s parole this November.
“If he gets out, he will rape, he will kill again,” said Kirkpatrick, who organized the rally with state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford.
“Help us keep him behind bars,” said Miller Dutcher. “Please help us be that voice for Gillian.”
One evening in 1984, Dart came to Miller Dutcher’s parents’ house in Portlandville and asked if he could talk to her. “He was kind of a loner,” she said. “His grandparents asked us to include him.”
She went outside with him, but he dragged her into the alley between two houses and began to assault her. “He had a knife to my throat,” she said. “He threatened to kill me, and I begged for my life.”
She managed to escape and get back home, where her parents called the police. Dart was sentenced to juvenile detention. “I was able to get away with my life, but he took emotional, physical and spiritual things away from me.”
Though her parents asked that he get counseling as part of his sentence, they later learned that he denied all of it. And because his record was sealed, during his trial for Gillian’s murder, the jury was not able to see his prior violent conviction.
“He’s been terrorizing people since he was an adolescent,” said Kirkpatrick.
“I wasn’t his only victim,” she said. “He attacked other girls, but their parents wouldn’t let them speak out. And he didn’t get the counseling that could have turned the tide. Maybe if he had, if we had known, Gillian would still be with us today.”
Retired Oneonta Police Chief Joseph Redmond, a sergeant at the time, read a letter from former Deputy Sheriff Sean Ralph, who was the first on the scene of Gillian’s murder.
“To this day I remember opening that car door and seeing one of the most horrific crime scenes in my law enforcement career,” the letter read. “I would ask that you trust my assessment that David Dart is a savage and brutal killer that perpetrated such violence and rage that he should never be trusted to prey on an innocent victim again.”
“It was people like you who were instrumental in solving Gillian’s murder,” said Redmond. “Now, I urge all of you to get your family, your friends involved in making sure he never walks among free society again.”
Seward handed out flyers with the information on how to write to the parole board, as well as how to support his bill to extend the time between parole hearings from two years to five.
“David Dart is right where he belongs,” said Seward. “Locked up behind bars. Why should he and other violent criminals have a right to a parole hearing every two years?”
Kirkpatrick and her family will tell Gillian’s story before a member of the parole board on Friday, Oct. 4. Letters to the board are due by the end of October in order to be read ahead of Dart’s November hearing.
“If he gets out, he will do this again,” said Kirkpatrick. “It could be your daughter, your sister, anybody.”
Jennifer Kirkpatrick, sister of Gillian Gibbons, asked 50 supporters gathered at the “Justice For Gillian” rally in Muller Plaza this afternoon to send letters asking the state Parole Board to deny convicted murderer David Dart parole in the stabbing death of Gibbons, 18, in Oneonta’s Municipal Parking Garage 30 years ago. “If he gets out, he will rape, he will kill again,” Kirkpatrick warned. With her is state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, who helped put the rally together and has sponsored a bill to increase the time between parole hearings from two to five years for violent offenders like Dart. At right, Jennifer Miller Dutcher tells her story – that when they were teens, Dart, who lived with his grandparents across the street from her in Portlandville, held her at knifepoint and assaulted her. “We were able to get him sent away for a little while. But when Gillian’s life was taken, I was devastated. I didn’t think I did enough,” she said. Then shifting to address Bart, she said: “I am a victim who has a voice, and I am using that voice to ask you to keep him behind bars.” (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
TREE LIGHTING – 4:30 – 6 p.m. Inaugural ceremony with Otego Mayor Ernie Kroll followed by Christmas tree lighting at the library, then caroling. Bring non-perishable food for Otego Food Bank. Begins at Otego Firehouse, 5 River St., Otego. 607-988-6661 or visit www.facebook.com/harrislibrary/
FUNDRAISER – 6 p.m. Cat Yoga with Lisa Brown and Susquehanna SPCA. All proceeds to Susquehanna SPCA. Suggested donation, $10. Bring your own mat, be prepared to meet adoptable kitties. First Baptist Church, 21 Elm St., Cooperstown. 607-547-9371 or visit www.facebook.com/ctownfirstbaptist/
CANDLELIGHT EVENING – 3 – 7 p.m. Experience magic of Christmas season with a candlelit museum covered in Christmas greenery, horse-drawn sleighs, carolers, bonfires, wassail, theater performances, more. Tickets available at door. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1450 or visit www.farmersmuseum.org/Candlelight-Evening
TREE LIGHTING – 5 – 8 p.m. Celebrate the season at annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony featuring music, vendors, kids activities, dancing, Santa, more. Muller Plaza, Oneonta. 607-432-2941 or visit www.facebook.com/DestinationOneonta/
Some 90 Oneontans – including, above, Ad Van Buren, Oneonta, Bill Van Buren of Sidney and his wife Julie, and Bruce Van Buren, Oneonta – rallied in Oneonta’s Muller Plaza this evening in solidarity with the Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller investigations into 2016 campaign irregularies. At right, as passing cars honk in support – and a few against, Betsy Holland, Oneonta, stands with fellow protesters along Main Street with her sign that states “Trump is not above the law!” The Defend The Mueller Investigation protest, started by Moveon.org and organized locally by Amy Pondolfino, began in response to suspicions that President Trump will be firing Robert Mueller, who is currently investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 Presidential election, or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who overseers Mueller’s work. Mueller’s efforts have already garnered 20 indictments and several guilty pleas. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
ONEONTA – As part of a nationwide protest of the president’s new acting attorney general, a Rally to Protect Mueller Investigation is planned at 5 p.m. today in Muller Plaza, downtown Oneonta, organized by Butternut Valley Indivisible. “Everyone who loves their country” is invited.
“The Mueller investigation was expected to wrap up quickly as soon as the general election was over,” an invitation emailed overnight says. “BUT WAIT – The very day after the election, Donald Trump has fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appointed a partisan loyalist, Matt Whitaker, to take his place.
OPENING RECEPTION – 5 – 7 p.m. Exhibits featuring works by Lilian Vorhees, paintng, Robert Seward, glazed clay sculpture, and David C.T. Wilson, stained & painted glass will launch the gallery’s summer season. On view thru 7/8. The Art Garage, 689 Beaver Meadow Rd., Cooperstown. Call 607-547-5327 or visit www.facebook.com/TheArtGarageCooperstown/