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.”
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.
ONEONTA – A burned spray can was found outside the door of a woman’s apartment at 5 Walling Ave., state investigators told City Judge Lucy Bernier during testimony today.
And the bottom of Heather Engler’s door was “covered,” state Fire Investigator Christopher Lupold testified.
The testimony suggests the woman may have been the target, rather than the man who died: John D. Heller, 38, who was asleep one floor up with his fiancée and his four nephews.
The spray can, burned beyond recognition, was found amid the debris found during the investigation into the fire that killed the former Oneonta firefighter who helped the four boys and fiancée Amber Roe escape before succumbing to the fire.
ONEONTA – Terrence Truitt, 34, suspected in the arson death of former firefighter John Heller last Saturday in the 5 Walling Ave. fire, had his felony hearing rescheduled for 1:30 p.m. today. He was brought to the city’s Public Safety Center at 8:30 this morning, but did not appear in the courtroom during the regular morning session.
ONEONTA – Within hours of Saturday morning’s fire that claimed the life of former Oneonta firefighter John D. Heller, the leads began to pour in.
“We had more than 70 leads,” said Police Chief Doug Brenner an hour ago at a press conference held jointly with Fire Chief Pat Pidgeon. “And the investigation is continuing.”
The men reported Terrence Truitt, 34, Oneonta, was arrested and charged with first-degree arson, which investigators believe started on the second floor of 5 Walling Ave.
Heller and his fiancee, Amber Roe, lived on the top floor, and had their four nephews staying with them that night. Heller and Roe helped the children escape, but then was unable to get out of the building.
ONEONTA – Terrence Truitt, 34, Oneonta, has been charged with arson in Saturday’s fatal fire where a former fireman died, Fire Chief Pat Pidgeon and Police Chief Doug Brenner report in a press conference earlier this evening.