RUTLAND -- When Frank Caraballo walked into the courtroom wearing an all gray sweatsuit, the judge said that she was fine with the attire because he was still considered innocent until proven guilty. His lawyers told the judge that his regular clothes needed to be cleaned, so the sweatsuit was the only option for the hearing.
Caraballo, 31, of Holyoke, Mass., stands accused of shooting and killing Melissa Barratt, a woman that he believes had stolen thousands of dollars worth of narcotics from him in 2011. She had sold drugs for him in the past and was found in the woods of Dummerston on July 29, 2011, with a single gunshot to the back of the head after Caraballo had told people that he was not able to find a certain amount of drugs that had been kept in a safe.
Kirstin Waterman, who gave testimony the day before, returned to the witness stand Wednesday. She confirmed having both a personal and business relationship with Caraballo. The two lived together until she kicked him out because he had been " intimate with several other women."
"I have love for him but I'm not in love with him," said Waterman. "There were times when he treated me really well and others where I couldn't do anything right and it was never enough."
She was referring to the amount of sales she could make for him. Waterman, like Barratt, sold crack and cocaine for Caraballo, even after the two stopped living together.
The prosecutors played recordings of Waterman and Caraballo discussing future business deals on the phone while Caraballo was incarcerated. Waterman confirmed that Caraballo had kept a safe at her apartment until he moved out. She had also, for the first time in court, mentioned that she had in fact seen a gun in the safe at one time.
"I came in and saw a gun in the safe, wrapped in cloth ... His brother (Jonathan) picked it up the next morning," said Waterman.
She discussed trips that she and Caraballo made to western Massachusetts, particularly Holyoke, where Caraballo would pick up narcotics to then sell in Brattleboro and other towns nearby.
Waterman described two vehicles that were purchased by Caraballo -- a blue Taurus and a white Nissan Maxima -- and she claimed that during a disagreement, Caraballo put his hands on her, a "physical altercation" over money.
"I owed him," said Waterman. "I tried hitting him and he stopped me and choked me."
Melanie Burroughs, a crack user who offered Caraballo and his associates rides for the narcotic, testified at court. She, too, mentioned trips to western Massachusetts with the defendant.
Like Waterman, Burroughs knew Barratt through Caraballo. She claimed to have developed a relationship with Barratt, claiming that they both had " similar likes" in music and perfume. Toward the end of Barratt's days, Burroughs noticed a change her tone. She said Barratt sounded distressed, flighty and rushed.
"She sounded like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders," said Burroughs, who believed that Barratt was not using drugs at that time.
Vermont State Police Detectives Tyson Kinney and J.P. Sinclair testified at the hearing as well. Kinney discussed finding the body and preserving the site for further investigation. Sinclair spoke of the cartridge shell, which he found behind a birch tree where he thought he might find ammunition once he began looking with a metal detector.
"Cartridges have a very low success rate for getting prints," said Sinclair, in response to the defendant's lawyer, Mark Kaplan.
Kaplan then asked if it is possible that the cartridge had been there earlier, before the murder occurred. Sinclair said it could have been but with "an injury to the back of the head, it would be exiting by the rear of her."
The final witness of the day was Jared Schofield, who confirmed that two of his guns were stolen. Both were allegedly sold in a deal involving Thomas Parrott, who also testified against Caraballo.
The case went into recess at 4:15 p.m. and will resume today.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.