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Turners Falls man found innocent in Orange shooting

GREENFIELD — After waiting more than 16 months to find out his fate, a Turners Falls man has been cleared of all charges in a 2012 shooting.

Corey Sutton, 38, of Turners Falls, was found innocent of several charges, after a five-day trial gave way to nearly two full days of jury deliberations. Tuesday afternoon, jurors returned to the courtroom with their verdict.

On Dec. 2, 2012, Sutton shot his girlfriend’s nephew, Zachery Drew, 21, with two slugs from his .45-caliber pistol. Drew nearly died in the ambulance en route to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, and ambulance drivers stopped at HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster so Drew could be stabilized before going on to the Worcester hospital.

From his arrest forward, Sutton maintained that he acted in self-defense. Drew, said Sutton, lunged at him with a screwdriver, and Sutton, his back against a wall, fired three shots from his pistol.

One went clean through Drew’s leg, another went through his arm and rib cage, grazing his liver and leaving him with a collapsed lung. Another round missed, and went through the trailer’s floor.

The prosecution argued that, even if Drew were armed, he dropped the weapon after the first shot hit him, meaning that he was unarmed when the second shot hit him.

Tensions between Drew and Sutton had been brewing for weeks.

Drew was mad with Sutton because he had been caught cheating on Drew’s aunt, Danielle Berry. Berry and Sutton had patched things up, but Drew never forgave Sutton.

The morning of the shooting, Sutton and Berry went to the local Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through and bought coffees and returned to the trailer shared by Berry and her nephew, Drew. Sutton said he wore his .45-caliber pistol on his belt holster when they went for coffee, so it wouldn’t be lying around the trailer for anybody to pick up. The holder of a class-A license to carry, Sutton carried the pistol legally.

The two returned to find the trailer’s door locked. A note, scrawled on the brown backing of a cereal box, said the door wouldn’t open again until Sutton left.

Without a key of her own, Berry asked Sutton to kick the trailer’s back door in, and he did. Berry went to the kitchen, where she got into a heated argument with Drew, while Sutton went the other way, to gather his things from Berry’s bedroom.

Hearing the argument, Sutton went into the kitchen. He told police he was just going to tell the two that he was leaving, hoping that would stop the fight. As soon as Drew saw him, though, the young man picked up a screwdriver and lunged at Sutton, he said. Sutton said he fired his gun in self defense.

After the first hit, Sutton said, Drew got up and lunged at him again, weapon in hand, and Sutton fired a third round, again striking Drew.

Drew, however, testified that he was empty handed when he was shot, and had simply taken a single step toward the sink for a drink of water when Sutton opened fire.

Other eye-witnesses could not agree on whether Drew was shot in the leg or chest and arm first, or whether he was armed with a hand-tool when either bullet hit him.

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

Jurors had to determine whether the prosecution proved that Drew was unarmed when Sutton fired each of the three shots. In the end, they decided that the prosecution had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooting was unjustified, and Sutton left Franklin County Superior Court a free man on a rainy Tuesday afternoon.

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

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