Defense attorney Matt Harnett and deputy state’s attorney David Gartenstein wrapped up their summations at about 4:30 pm Tuesday. After a brief recess, Judge Karen Carroll read the jury their instructions before jurors retired to begin deliberations. In her instructions, Carroll included the lesser charge. If jurors find Boglioli did not act in self-defense, and there for unlawfully killed Riccitelli, but the shooting doesn’t meet the criteria for second-degree murder, they may find him guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
If convicted of second-degree murder, Boglioli could face a sentence of 20 years to life in prison. Voluntary manslaughter carries a penalty of one to 15 years.
In his summation to the jury, Gartenstein said he and fellow state’s attorney Steve Brown had proven their case, that Boglioli shot and killed Riccitelli, and that Riccitelli wasn’t carrying an ax handle as Boglioli claims. Testimony from witnesses who were nearby at the time indicated Riccitelli was playing basketball shortly before the incident. Boglioli says he looked out his window before leaving his house to take his trash to a dumpster on Greenwich Road. One witness, Tiffany Oxley says she saw Boglioli carrying his trash to the dumpster, and saw Riccitelli walking behind him. Oxley testified that Riccitelli wasn’t carrying anything at the time. “Ms. Oxley has no motive to testify to anything other than what she saw,” Gartenstein told jurors. “Despite what the defense has tried to portray, her testimony has been consistent.”
Gartenstein also played a recording of a 911 call made by Deb Valois, a friend of Riccitelli’s. On the recording, Valois sounded emotional and desperate for help. “I have a gunshot wound,” she told the 911 operator. “Hurry up. (He was shot) in the chest.”
The operator asked Valois if someone else was involved or if the gunshot was self-inflicted. “I don’t know, I can’t think.” In court, Valois had testified that she couldn’t see Boglioli because her view was partially blocked, but she saw Riccitelli fall back.
Shortly after he was taken into custody, Boglioli told police Riccitelli’s weapon, an ax handle, was on the ground near the spot where the confrontation took place. Police later found an ax handle in the nearby dumpster, and the defense contends that someone, one of the witnesses, moved the ax handle. “The evidence proves that didn’t happen,” Gartenstein told jurors.
In his testimony, Boglioli said that Riccitelli had been harassing him for years, and shot at his house with darts, bb guns, arrows, rocks, and other projectiles. “And he never reported that to the police,” Gartenstein said. “How credible is that?”
Gartenstein said Boglioli’s story had changed over time. On the stand, Boglioli said that when he pulled his gun out, Riccitelli said “go ahead and use your gun.” That was when Boglioli pulled the trigger, he testified. “George (Riccitelli) said ‘so shoot me,’ and he did,” Gartenstein said. “That’s murder.”
Defense attorney Matt Harnet picked up the evidence bag containing the ax handle and, showing it to jurors, asked “Who in Vermont takes a perfectly good ax handle and throws it in the dumpster? It never had an (ax) head on it. Who would do that?”
Harnett asked jurors to look over the evidence carefully, including a large photo of the dumpster containing the ax handle. Prosecutors contend that the juxtaposition of items in the photo indicate that the handle had been in there since before the confrontation between Boglioli and Riccitelli. Harnett said the spatial relationships between items in the dumpster were unclear in the photo. “Unfortunately, we only have one picture,” Harnett said. “It would have been nice if police had taken photos at different angles, as they did with all the rest of the evidence.”
Harnett said Boglioli had spent a number of years avoiding confrontation with Riccitelli. Boglioli testified that it was “his habit” to look out his windows before leaving the house to make sure Riccitelli wasn’t around. Harnett said Boglioli had declined to seek a no trespassing order or give police a sworn state regarding marijuana being grown on the property because he didn’t want to stir up trouble that would encourage Riccitelli and landlord Ken Willis to step up efforts to evict him.
“George (Riccitelli) was scary, violent, and stoned,” Harnett said. “He was Kenny’s (Willis) henchman, and (Willis) was using George to illegally evict David (Boglioli).”
In expert testimony earlier in the day, Dr. Scott Kriger, a toxicologist with AIT Laboratories in Indianapolis, IN, told jurors that he tested Riccitelli’s blood and urine, and found that Riccitelli had a high level of THC, the psychoactive chemical in Marijuana. Prosecutors called Dr. Robert Drawbaugh, chief of toxicology for the Vermont Department of Health, as a rebuttal witness. Drawbaugh testified that because the blood that was tested could have co-mingled with blood and fluids containing residual THC from the wound tract through Riccitelli’s lungs, the exact amount of THC in his blood at the time of the shooting couldn’t be pinpointed. Both experts agreed that Riccitelli was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the shooting.
Boglioli became emotional, sobbing throughout Harnett’s summation as he described the events leading to Riccitelli’s shooting on August 15, 2008.
“George Riccitelli cornered (Boglioli) and was about to take off his head with this ax handle,” Harnett said, holding the ax handle like a baseball bat, “and that’s when he shot him. You have reasonable doubt. The state has failed to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In the state’s rebuttal, Gartenstein posed an answer to Harnett’s opening question. “Who would throw away a perfectly good handle?” he asked the jury. “Someone who is trying to get away with murder, that’s who.”
The jury continued deliberations Wednesday morning.