In his opening remarks, state’s attorney David Gartenstein told the jury of nine women and three men that the prosecution would prove that the shooting was unjustified, intentional, and unlawful.
The two men were once on friendly terms, Gartenstein said. According to his friends and former co-workers, Boglioli was once a professional drummer. In the mid-1960s, Boglioli was a member of the Hicksville, NY band The Echoes, later called The Lost Souls, with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Billy Joel. Gartenstein told jurors they’d hear testimony of the "racket" they heard when Boglioli and Riccitelli were drumming together. It wasn’t until a few years before the shooting that the relationship soured. "Each of the two men played their own role in exacerbating the situation."
On the day of the shooting, prosecutors said, tensions came to a head over six potted marijuana plants Boglioli says Riccitelli put on his deck. "That appears to be the real motive," Gartenstein said. "(Boglioli) was upset that pot plants were put on his porch."
But, in his opening remarks, defense attorney Matt Harnett offered a very different view of events. He said the confrontation was the culmination of years of harassment and intimidation by Riccitelli. Harnett told jurors that, on the day of the shooting, Boglioli was carrying his trash, in a white bag, to a dumpster located across the road and near Riccitelli’s apartment. Harnett said Riccitelli crept up behind Boglioli and, when Boglioli turned around after putting his trash in the dumpster, Riccitelli was right there, carrying an ax handle.
An ax handle was later discovered in the dumpster, and Harnett said it was found on top of the white trash bag placed in the dumpster, indicating that it was put in the dumpster after the bag was put there. After the shooting, and after he had been taken into custody, Boglioli asserted that he acted in self-defense, and asked police if they saw the ax handle on the ground near Riccitelli. "You’ll hear that there was no DNA evidence found on the pick-ax handle," Harnett said. "But there was human DNA found on the handle. It just wasn’t enough for a DNA profile."
Gartenstein said the defense claim that Riccitelli was carrying an ax handle when the confrontation occurred would be refuted by six witnesses who will testify "they saw no weapon and nobody moved anything." One witness, Tiffany Oxley, says she saw Riccitelli with both hands in the air, demonstrating that he was unarmed. "Later, a commercial ax handle, which was never shaved down (fitted to an ax head) was found neatly placed in a corner of the dumpster."
Through testimony provided by 911 operator Kimberly Hall and Wilmington Police Sergeant Matt Murano, as well as time stamp data on audio tapes of the 911 calls, Harnett established that three and a half minutes elapsed between the time the initial 911 call was received, and the time that Murano arrived on the scene. In his opening remarks, Harnett suggested that any one of the three witnesses at the scene had the opportunity to put the ax handle in the dumpster between the time of the shooting and the time police arrived at the location.
Murano testified that he was already on Higley Hill, headed west, when he was dispatched to the shooting on Greenwich Road, a cul-de-sac off Higley Hill. He turned his cruiser around, activated his in-cruiser video camera and recording system, and rushed to the scene.
Video from Murano’s cruiser allowed jurors to see what he saw as he turned onto Greenwich Road. Riccitelli was lying on the ground, parallel to the road, with his right arm extended and his left arm draped over his forehead. Riccitelli’s friend and landlord Ken Willis was standing closest to the body, and Oxley was standing several yards away. Oxley’s mother, Deb Valois, was talking on a portable phone, apparently to the 911 operator.
Murano said he checked Riccitelli for a pulse and signs of breathing. Finding none, he moved to secure the area, ordering Willis, Oxley, and Valois back to the Willis’ house. In later testimony, Heidi Taylor, an EMT-Intermediate with Deerfield Valley Rescue, said she also examined Riccitelli and concluded that he was dead.
Willis told Murano that the shooter had gone back into his house. After Wilmington Police Detective Mark Denault arrived, Murano and Denault moved to take Boglioli into custody. But before police could order Boglioli to come out of the house, he walked out on his own, unarmed. Police ordered Boglioli to the ground, handcuffed him, and took him into custody without further incident. Murano asked Boglioli where his gun was and whether it was "locked and loaded." Boglioli replied that the gun was sitting on a garbage can, and was loaded, but there was no lock.
On the audio picked up by a wireless microphone on Murano’s belt, the court could hear Boglioli telling Murano that the incident was precipitated by the marijuana plants, which he said Riccitelli had put on his deck. "It was for what he did last night," Boglioli told Murano. I’ve been keeping you posted on this. It’s been coming for a long time." Boglioli told Murano he had thrown the plants into the road and had informed Willis of the situation. When Riccitelli found out, Boglioli said, "George was out there (in front of Boglioli’s house) yelling ‘I’m going to kill you’ and all that shit."
Under questioning by Harnett, Murano testified that a number of marijuana plants were taken during a search warrant executed on Willis’ house, including Riccitelli’s basement apartment. Although Murano said he didn’t know how many plants were found during the search, he said that a town highway department dump truck was called in to haul the plants away.
The trial will continue at 8:30 am on Monday.