Orange shooting trial goes to jury
GREENFIELD — “If you believe the defendant’s story, then Zachery Drew is Batman.”
That was part of prosecutor Jeremy Bucci’s closing argument Friday as he argued that there was no way the victim of a 2012 shooting was able to arm himself by grabbing a screwdriver from the cluttered top of a microwave without knocking other items to the floor. Unless he had the dexterity and presence of mind of a superhero.
The defendant, Corey Sutton of Turners Falls, shot Drew twice on the morning of Dec. 2, 2012. Sutton contends that he was acting in self- defense, and fired his .45-caliber pistol when Drew tried to stab him with a screwdriver.
“Look at the top of the microwave,” Bucci continued, and pointed to a blown-up photo of the crime scene. “There are three key rings, cloves of garlic, a pencil, a screwdriver, tin foil, garbage, paper in a box and key rings slopping over the side. That is the point of the conflict, if you believe the defendant.”
While Drew was engaged in a shoving match with his aunt, Danielle Berry, her boyfriend, Sutton, came into the room to tell them he was leaving, so they’d stop arguing over his presence in their trailer home, according to the defendant.
Then, Sutton said, Drew grabbed one of two screwdrivers on top of the appliance, and lunged at him with it.
Weeks before the shooting, Drew had discovered that Sutton had cheated on Berry. Later, he wrote “I cheat on my girlfriend” on Sutton’s jacket, stole Sutton’s knife, and said Sutton wasn’t allowed into the trailer home he shared with his aunt.
Drew and Berry had agreed that, on the night before the shooting, Drew and roommate George Crooks would stay out of their home for the night, so Berry and Sutton could enjoy a peaceful, conflict-free evening. Drew and Brooks came home that night, though, and the next morning, Drew locked Berry and Sutton out when they left to get a coffee. They returned, Berry had Sutton kick in the door, and she got into an argument with Drew.
It ended with Sutton firing three .45-caliber rounds, and striking Drew twice.
Bucci said that, if Sutton had time to take his gun out of the holster and hold it in the “low-ready” position before firing, he also had time to leave the trailer and avoid a physical confrontation. Massachusetts law states that someone must take all reasonable steps to avoid conflict before using possible deadly force in self-defense.
Bucci argued that Sutton was livid because of Drew’s actions and the alleged screwdriver attack was just a convenient excuse for Sutton to shoot the “20-year-old punk” who gave him so much trouble.
Drew testified that he simply took a single step toward the kitchen sink for a glass of water, when Sutton shot him.
None of the items from the microwave were found on the kitchen floor where the shooting took place. Neither was the screwdriver Drew supposedly used as a weapon.
Bucci argued that, after shooting an unarmed Drew, Sutton went back into the trailer, found a screwdriver and placed it on a back-porch railing, where he had also placed his unloaded pistol.
Defense attorney Alexander Nappan called that into question during his own closing statement.
“I guess the commonwealth’s theory is that Mr. Sutton, realizing he’d shot an unarmed man, picked up a screwdriver, brought it outside and put it next to his gun,” said Nappan. “Why wouldn’t he have just dropped (the screwdriver) on the floor? Most reasonable people, if they’re going to plant evidence, would plant it where it’s most relevant.”
Nappan says it’s not his client who has invented a story to suit his own purposes, but Drew who isn’t telling the truth.
“(Drew) came into this room and lied to you,” Nappan told the jury.
The attorney then pointed out several discrepancies between the statements Drew gave to police and medical personnel, and the testimony he gave in court.
Drew had told police that he lived alone in the trailer, and Berry was simply staying with him. Several witness’ testimony said that Berry occupied the master bedroom, while Drew slept on the couch or in a recliner most nights.
Drew also said he hadn’t smoked marijuana the day of the shooting, but medical records said that he was under the influence of the drug that very day. When hospital records identified Drew as a daily marijuana user, he said it wasn’t true, that he told them he smokes pot “pretty much” every day.
Nappan said it was quite convenient for Drew to remember the specifics of that conversation, since he had previously testified that he had no recollection whatsoever of speaking to medical staff or police while he was in the ambulance or during his two weeks at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester.
“If he’s lying about the little things, I suggest to you that he lied about the big things,” the defense lawyer continued. “I have to question whether he’s a man capable of telling the truth even when it hits him in the face.”
Those “big things” refer to Drew’s testimony that he was empty-handed when Sutton shot him.
After Friday’s closing arguments, jurors were instructed on the elements of each charge Drew faces. If they find that he may have acted in self-defense, they must find him not guilty for the specific charge.
Sutton faces three assault charges, one for each bullet fired. A charge of aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, for the bullet that went through Drew’s left arm and lodged in his midsection, collapsing his lung and grazing his liver. A charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, for shooting Drew clean through the leg, and a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon, for a round that missed Drew. He is also charged with illegal discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of a building.
If the jury believes Sutton acted in self-defense on any single charge, they must find him not guilty, said Judge Mary Lou Rup.
The jury was only able to deliberate for about 15 minutes Friday, as Rup had to leave at noon. Deliberations will resume Monday.
You can reach David Rainville at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261, ext. 279