On Monday, Deb Valois testified that, several years ago, Boglioli and Riccitelli were on friendly terms. At that time, Boglioli lived in the main house at Ken Willis’ Greenwich Road development, in the same house as Willis. Riccitelli lived in a downstairs apartment. During that time Boglioli, a former professional drummer, taught Riccitelli to play drums. “He gave George his drum set,” Valois said. “Everybody was friends.”
Willis took the stand on Tuesday, and told the court Boglioli was five years old when he first met him. At the time, Willis’ father and Boglioli’s father were partners in a retail furniture business in New York. The acquaintanceship continued after Willis, a cabinetmaker, closed his father’s furniture business and opened his own custom furniture shop.
Willis said he left New York and moved to Vermont, where he purchased land and built a number of houses, including the houses at Greenwich Road. About 12 years ago, he met and befriended Riccitelli. “Funny guy,” he said, of his first meeting with Riccitelli. “He wanted to buy my sledgehammer. He said he collects them. It seems strange. But the more he was around, the more you get to like him.”
Several years later, Riccitelli moved into an apartment in the basement of Willis’ house.
Willis said the Boglioli moved up from New York at his invitation, after a phone call. State’s attorney David Gartenstein asked Willis to describe the call without revealing the exact circumstances that prompted Boglioli’s move. “I just told him to come up here,” Willis said. “I said ‘it sounds too crazy down there, come up here and get out of that mess.’” Boglioli was originally from Hicksville, NY.
Boglioli moved into a room in Willis’ house. After several years, however, Boglioli moved to the small house on Greenwich Road that he lived in at the time of the shooting last August. During that time, any friendship between the three soured. In particular, according to both Willis and Valois, they were angered that Boglioli received special services from the MOOver, and that he had moved his mailbox from Higley Hill to the front of his house on Greenwich Road. “Might as well put it at the end of his bed,” Willis said.
Willis said there were several landlord-tenant disputes, as well. Boglioli was on disability, Willis said, and his rent was paid by the state. Willis wanted to raise the rent, but Boglioli resisted the increase. Willis also said that Boglioli’s use of a dumpster was another concern. Willis paid for the dumpster, but he said no one else at the complex would help pay for the service, including Boglioli.
On the morning of the shooting, Willis said he was in his bedroom watching television when he heard Valois, who had come in to make coffee, yell that Boglioli was carrying his garbage up to the dumpster, and Riccitelli was heading toward him. Willis said he got up and headed out of the house. By the time he got to the bottom of the steps he saw his friend lying on the ground, Boglioli standing near him with a gun. “I said give me that thing, jerk,” Willis said. “I said it again, and he turned and walked away.”
Willis said he went after Boglioli, attempting to get the gun away from him. “I followed, and he kept going, so I stopped and went back to see how George was doing.”
Willis said the extent of Riccitelli’s injury wasn’t evident at first. “He was lying there with a little smile on his face,” Willis said, his voice cracking with emotion. “I picked up his shirt (and saw the bullet entry wound) and hollered up ‘this is serious, call 911.’ Then I sat next to the house. I didn’t know what to do.”
Soon, Willis said, “all hell broke loose” when police arrived at the scene. After a brief interview with police, Willis was taken to Southern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington by Deerfield Valley Rescue. “Next thing I knew, they wanted to take me to the hospital,” he said.
On Monday, Valois described what occurred the morning of the shooting; her story closely matching that of her daughter, Tiffany Oxley, who testified earlier in the day. But on Tuesday, defense attorney Matt Harnett questioned her about a number of inconsistencies between her testimony in court and previous sworn statements and depositions. He also asked her if she recalled contacting the office of the state victim’s advocate to tell them that she was “all drugged out” after taking two valiums on the morning of the shooting, and she didn’t want to be held accountable for her statements to police that morning. Valois eventually agreed that he had contacted the victim’s advocate with her concerns.
Willis will face cross-examination when he takes that stand again Wednesday morning