Closing arguments today in Sutton trial
GREENFIELD — If a jury is to convict Corey Sutton of shooting his ex-girlfriend’s nephew, they must agree that Sutton did not act in self- defense.
Three days of testimony and evidence, however, have failed to produce two similar accounts of the events that led to the shooting of Zachery Drew. Both sides rested their cases Thursday, and will deliver closing arguments today.
Whether jurors find Sutton guilty depends on which version of events they believe.
Five people, including the shooter and victim, witnessed the events of Dec. 2, 2012, but their accounts have varied widely.
Sutton and his ex-girlfriend, Danielle Berry, both said victim Zachery Drew charged at Sutton with a sharp object in his hand before Sutton fired three rounds from his .45-caliber Springfield Armory pistol, striking Drew twice.
Berry said Drew held a metal file in his left hand, while Sutton said Drew clenched a screwdriver in his right hand. Drew said he had no weapon at all, and was on his way to the sink to get a glass of water when Sutton shot him unexpectedly.
While Sutton did not take the stand himself, an 80-minute video of his interview with police was introduced as evidence Thursday.
The defendant told police that Drew and Berry were arguing about his presence in the home, because Drew held a grudge against Sutton for having an affair. Sutton said he heard the argument turn into a shoving match and entered the kitchen to make sure Berry didn’t get hurt.
He was only going to tell Berry that he was leaving, in hopes that doing so would end the argument, he told police.
When he got into the room, he said, Drew picked up a screwdriver and lunged at him, so Sutton raised his pistol and shot the man.
Drew was shot through the leg with one bullet, another went through his arm and lodged in his abdomen, and another missed him entirely and went through the trailer home’s floor.
Drew was unsure where he was struck first. He testified that Sutton fired once and struck him, paused, made contact with another round and immediately fired a third shot, which missed him.
Others have said that Sutton fired twice before pausing and firing the third shot. They have said that one of the first two rounds struck Drew, with the other missing, though none were sure which of the first two shots hit Drew.
Witness George Brooks, who shared the Sunset Drive trailer home with Drew and Berry, testified that Drew was unarmed when Sutton shot him. Brooks did say that Drew pushed Sutton before the shooting, contradicting the victim’s own account of events.
Brooks’ girlfriend, Ashley Auditore, told the court that she only saw Sutton fire the last shot, and she couldn’t be sure whether Drew had a weapon at any time.
Sutton faces three assault charges, one for each bullet, as well as a charge of discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a residence. The disputed order of the shots bears importance to the case.
A charge of assault and battery with a firearm causing serious bodily injury stems from the bullet that hit Drew in the arm and abdomen. That shot grazed Drew’s liver and left him with a collapsed lung, requiring surgery and about two weeks’ hospitalization. A charge of assault and battery with a firearm results from the round that went clean through Drew’s leg. The charge of assault with a firearm comes from the round that missed Drew.
The prosecution argues that, if Drew was armed, he dropped the weapon when he fell to the floor after the first hit. If that is the truth, then, the second injury, and possibly the missed shot, came while he was unarmed.
Sutton told police that Drew fell to the floor after being hit by one of the first two shots. Drew then got up and lunged at him again, screwdriver in hand, said Sutton.
Since the witness accounts varied so much, defense attorney Alexander Nappan made a motion for a required innocent finding on all three assault charges. He argued that no reasonable jury would be able to agree on the order of the shots, which ones struck Drew and where on his body, and whether Drew was unarmed during any of the three shots.
Judge Mary Lou Rup denied the motion. She reasoned that the evidence “most favorable to the Commonwealth” would show that Sutton did not shoot Drew in defense of himself or Berry.
That “most favorable” evidence is Drew’s testimony, she said, which stated that he was unarmed when all three shots were fired.
Both sides rested their cases Thursday after the third day of testimony, which included accounts from state and local police and a forensic scientist, as well as Sutton’s recorded statements.
Police and forensic testimony largely referred to the investigative techniques used in the case.
One juror nodded off for 10 minutes during the 80-minute recording of Sutton’s statements. Both attorneys and the judge agreed that she should be made an alternate juror because of this.
After Thursday’s proceedings, prosecutor Jeremy Bucci said that, if Sutton is convicted, the state will not seek the maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison.
After today’s closing arguments, the jury will be instructed by the judge, and deliberations will begin. Rup said she has to leave court at noon today, which may not give the jury enough time to come to a conclusion in the case. If needed, deliberations will resume Monday morning.
You can reach David Rainville at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261, ext. 279