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Testimony starts in Orange shooting trial

GREENFIELD — The defense poked some holes in the testimony of prosecution witnesses in the trial of a Turners Falls man who twice shot his girlfriend’s nephew 16 months ago.

On Tuesday, the jury heard from the first witnesses in the case against Corey Sutton, who was 36 at the time of the shooting on Dec. 2, 2012.

Sutton shot Zachery Drew, then 20, after an argument. It happened in an Orange trailer home shared by Drew, a friend, and Sutton’s girlfriend, Danielle Berry.

Sutton and Berry have maintained that Drew charged at Sutton while wielding a flat-head screwdriver.

Sutton is charged with aggravated assault and battery with a firearm, assault and battery with a firearm, assault with a firearm and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a residence.

The victim’s friend and former roommate, George Brooks, 21, said that Drew was not holding a weapon of any sort when Sutton pulled the trigger three times on his .45-caliber semi-automatic Springfield Armory pistol.

Brooks said he was awakened when Sutton and Berry returned to the trailer to find they had been locked out, with a note on the door saying Berry wouldn’t be allowed back inside until Sutton left. They pounded on the door, waking Brooks, before Sutton kicked the door in and the couple entered. Shortly afterward, an argument broke out between Berry and Drew, and Sutton soon joined in.

In the end, Sutton fired his gun three times, striking Drew twice. Drew was left with a collapsed lung. He underwent surgery, and spent nearly two weeks recuperating in a Worcester hospital.

The arguments of the defense and prosecution both hinge on the events that led up to the shooting.

Defense attorney Alexander Nappan argued that it was self defense, with Sutton shooting when Drew lunged at him with a screwdriver.

Prosecutor Jeremy Bucci argues that, if Drew was using a screwdriver as a weapon, he dropped it after being hit by the first bullet, and was therefore unarmed when he was shot a second time.

The testimony of two witnesses Tuesday contradicted previous statements they had made to police.

Defense lawyer Nappan asked Brooks Tuesday if Drew had pushed Sutton before the shooting. Brooks said that Drew never laid a hand on the defendant.

Nappan then walked to his laptop, and pressed play on a recording of a statement Brooks had given to police shortly after the shooting.

“You said you saw Zach (Drew) trying to push Corey out?” asked the officer on the tape.

“Yeah,” came Brooks’ reply. “He was pushing him toward the back door, in the hallway, saying ‘get the hell out of here.’”

On Tuesday, Brooks also said that Drew did not have a screwdriver during the argument, and that he did not see one on the floor after the shooting.

Brooks’ girlfriend, Ashley Auditore, 22, was also called to testify.

Auditore, Brooks and Drew had spent the day before the shooting at a local garage, where Brooks was working on a car. They returned to the Sunset Drive trailer home shared by Drew, Brooks and Berry late that night.

Nappan asked Auditore if she had been drinking at the garage, and she said she hadn’t.

Brooks contradicted her testimony, saying that both Auditore and Drew had been drinking that night, but that he himself stayed sober so he could drive.

Although whether the victim and one witness had been drinking the night before the shooting may not be of direct importance to the case, the discrepancy it highlighted could cast doubt on other, more pertinent testimony.

Tuesday, the jury also heard from State Police Detective Sgt. Gary Gadreault, who headed the investigation.

While displaying photographs of blood spatters left on the floor of the trailer, Nappan asked Gadreault if any measurements had been taken to show just where they were. The sergeant said they had not, and maintained that his investigation and the photographs were enough.

The prosecution also introduced several items into evidence, including the gun used in the shooting, the casings from the three bullets fired, a bullet fragment removed from the victim during surgery, the screwdriver allegedly wielded by the victim, and numerous photographs of the crime scene.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

Related

Full coverage of the Sutton shooting trial

Friday, April 11, 2014

∎ Corey Sutton, then 36, admitted to shooting Zachery Drew, then 20, twice on the morning of Dec. 2, 2012, in a mobile home at 21 Sunset Drive in Orange. Sutton is now on trial before a jury in Franklin Superior Court. Nobody disputes that Sutton shot Drew twice. The question is whether it was done in self-defense. On Monday, the … 0

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