Boglioli case goes to jury


Wednesday, July 1
BRATTLEBORO -- The jury began deliberations Tuesday in the second-degree murder trial of David Boglioli.

After closing statements by Deputy State's Attorney David Gartenstein and defense attorney Matthew Harnett, the jury must decide whether to find Boglioli guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of his neighbor, George Riccitelli, or if he was defending himself from being beaten with an ax handle.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Boglioli will face a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

Prior to the closing statements, Harnett called Scott Kriger, a toxicology expert, to the stand. Kriger testified that marijuana was found in Riccitelli's body after his death. When there is evidence of the intoxicating chemical in marijuana (THC) in the blood stream, that means that the person would have been under the influence of the drug, the expert explained.

He said that Riccitelli had a level of THC in his blood that more than 20 times exceeded what was necessary to feel the effects.

When Gartenstein cross-examined the witness, the expert said that with a wound such as Riccitelli's, where the lung has been punctured, it is possible that some of the THC stored in the lung tissue could enter the blood, raising the THC level. But even then, the witness said, the level of THC found in the blood would only be increased three or four times, at the most.

Gartenstein then called Robert Drawbaugh, chief of the toxicology program at the Vermont Department of Health laboratory. Drawbaugh said he thought it was unlikely that there wasn't at least some redistribution of THC from the lung tissue.

He also said that the level of THC found in Riccitelli's blood was consistent with him smoking one joint about 15 minutes before his death and that the number given by the previous witness as the minimum amount necessary for intoxication was actually a very low number, in his opinion.

Following this testimony, Judge Karen Carroll ruled that Boglioli would also be charged with voluntary manslaughter, for which he would receive a considerably reduced sentence if convicted.

Voluntary manslaughter is an unlawful and intentional killing when there are extenuating circumstances involved, such as provocation.

If convicted of the reduced charge, Boglioli would receive a sentence of one to 15 years in prison.

The judge also ruled that there was enough evidence of self defense to instruct the jury to consider the defendant's self-defense claim.

If the jury finds that Boglioli acted in self defense, he cannot be convicted of anything.

Gartenstein, in his closing statements, said that the basis for a self-defense claim was inadequate.

Throughout the trial, Harnett has been making the case that an ax handle, which Boglioli said Riccitelli threatened him with, was removed from beside Riccitelli's body by one of the three witnesses who was at the scene within seconds of the incident occurring.

Harnett reiterated in his closing statements that one of those witnesses, either Deborah Velois, her 20-year-old daughter Tiffany Oxley, or Kenneth Willis, 73, all of whom were inside a nearby house or on the deck of the house, must have put the handle in the Dumpster before the police arrived between three and four minutes later.

Gartenstein played a recording of the 911 call Valois placed moments after Riccitelli was shot. As she relayed information about what happened, her voice is high pitched and she seems hysterical, and for several seconds the dispatcher tried repeatedly to ask her the same question but cannot get a response.

"Now the suggestion that -- with this going on 30 or 45 seconds before she makes the call -- that she takes the time to move some weapon as the defense claims is preposterous," Gartenstein said.

"Who in Vermont takes a perfectly good ax handle -- never even had an ax on it -- and throws it in the Dumpster? Is it garbage? No. It's a perfectly good ax handle, not damaged or broken in any way. Who would do that -- take a perfectly good tool and throw it in a Dumpster?" Harnett asked the jury.

He said the only reasonable conclusion was that one of the witnesses, who were friends with the alleged victim, threw it out.

"They hated David and loved George," he said.

Harnett described a series of events that he said prompted Boglioli to buy a gun two years before the shooting. He described how Boglioli's relationship with Riccitelli and Kenneth Willis, who was his landlord, turned sour 10 years ago and eventually made him afraid to leave his home.

"George limited those trips to the Dumpster and the store because of the guy who was wielding this thing," he said, picking up the ax handle. "Kenny said that five or six times he had to restrain George from hurting David."

"(Valois, Oxley and Willis) came out of their home that morning when they saw the two of them together because they were afraid of what George was going to do to David, not what David might do to George," he added.

Harnett also argued that if Boglioli wanted to harm Riccitelli in any way, all he needed to do was call the police. There were 167 marijuana plants found in Riccitelli's house the day after the shooting, which Boglioli testified he was aware of but had no part in.

Harnett described Riccitelli as Willis' "henchman." Riccitelli lived in the first floor apartment of Willis' house and did the older man's bidding, Harnett said.

He added that it's likely Willis and Riccitelli were uncomfortable about Boglioli calling the police for noise complaints and wanted him out of his home where he had been living for more than 10 years.

Boglioli described the agreement he had with Willis to rent the house as a "lifelong agreement."

Gartenstein pointed out that in his testimony, Boglioli said he had numerous opportunities to move out of the house and extricate himself from a bad situation and avoid further confrontation with Riccitelli, to which Harnett responded that Boglioli had invested $13,000 into the house and had grown attached to it.

Gartenstein said that Boglioli killed Riccitelli because Boglioli didn't want to be driven out of his home.

"Who throws away a perfectly good handle like this," said Gartenstein, holding the ax at the beginning of his rebuttal. "Somebody getting away with murder, that's who."

"If he was telling the truth about what occurred, he would have said the same thing to (Andrew) McLean, but he said something completely different," he added. "He makes up statements and then can't keep them straight."

Gartenstein said that when he called his friend Andrew McLean just moments after the shooting, Boglioli told McLean that Riccitelli "walked up to me within two feet away of me, swinging the ax handle."

That was what McLean said on the witness stand last week.

"There was not a mark on the defendant's body, and the defendant was two feet away swinging an ax handle? That's the statement of somebody who's trying to set up a self defense claim," Gartenstein said.

The jury began deliberation just after 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and left the courthouse just after 8 p.m. Jury deliberation will resume today at 8:30 a.m.


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