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Self defense argued in Orange shooting

Recoredr Chris Curtis
Corey Sutton confers with a lawyer during a break before his bail hearing Monday in Orange District Court on charges of attempted murder and assault and battery with a deadly weapon in connection with a shooting Sunday morning.

Recoredr Chris Curtis Corey Sutton confers with a lawyer during a break before his bail hearing Monday in Orange District Court on charges of attempted murder and assault and battery with a deadly weapon in connection with a shooting Sunday morning.

ORANGE — Sunday’s shooting on Sunset Drive was the culmination of an ongoing dispute between the victim and the defendant who both were staying at a mobile home there, according to both prosecuting and defense lawyers.

Corey Sutton, 36, of Turners Falls had a plea of innocent entered in a district court arraignment on a charge of attempted murder. Sutton’s lawyer doesn’t deny his client shot the victim, but claims it was in self defense.

The victim, identified as both Zachary and Zachery J. Drew in court filings, was hospitalized in critical but stable condition, according to prosecutor Rosemary Tarantino of the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.

The shooting occurred at 21 Sunset Drive — not 24 as reported Monday — shortly after 9 a.m., according to a statement filed by Sgt. Gary Gadreault of the Franklin and Hampshire State Police Detectives unit and witness statements included in the court filing. The victim apparently made it across the street to No. 24 with the help of another person staying in the mobile home at the time, and his grandmother called 911 from that address.

Orange police took Sutton, of 6 Whiteman Way, Apt. 2, Turners Falls, into custody outside 21 Sunset Drive shortly after the incident, according to Gadreault’s statement, arresting and charging him with attempted murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a gun, after executing a search warrant at No. 21 around 4 p.m.

Judge David Ross entered a plea of not guilty on Sutton’s behalf in Orange District Court Monday and set bail at $200,000.

Arguing bail, Tarantino and Greenfield attorney Alex Nappan, appointed to Sutton’s defense, presented similar versions of the event but disagreed on the intent.

Both agreed Sutton shot Drew three times during an altercation, but Nappan described the shooting as a legitimate act of self defense.

Tarantino said Drew was staying at 21 Sunset Drive with Sutton’s girlfriend, a relative of his, and Sutton also sometimes stayed at the home.

Gadreault’s statement identifies Danielle Berry as Drew’s aunt and in a relationship with Sutton.

Tarantino said Drew may have been armed with a sharp object, possibly a screwdriver, and may have been the aggressor, but ballistics indicated Sutton continued firing after Drew was on the ground and unarmed.

“The victim was down on the floor when at least one and perhaps two of the shots were fired,” Tarantino said.

Two bullets passed through Drew and the floor of the trailer at an angle indicating he was on the ground, Tarantino said.

According to Gadreault’s statement, two bullets passed through Drew’s left leg and hip and the third entered his left arm and travelled inside his arm down to his chest, coming to rest in the area of his abdomen.

Tarantino requested bail be set at $500,000, a sum Nappan argued was equivalent to not setting bail.

Nappan said Sutton is a divorced Navy veteran with children, has mental health issues and works as a metal fabricator when he can.

Nappan said his client is a strong believer in his Second Amendment rights, is licensed to carry a gun and has worn a pistol on his hip since his service days.

Nappan characterized the dispute as a young man — Drew — taking it upon himself to defend his relative’s honor.

Nappan said Sutton had admitted an affair and Drew wanted Sutton out of the residence, which does not belong to him.

Sutton and his girlfriend were reconciling, Sutton had spent the night and the two went out in the morning for coffee but returned to find Drew had locked the door, according to Nappan.

Nappan said they forced the door open with the permission of the owner and the argument escalated.

“(Drew) picks up a screwdriver and it starts to swing toward my client,” Nappan said. “My client takes out the gun that he is trained and qualified to operate and pulls the trigger three times.”

According to Gadreault’s statement, two Orange police officers were first on the scene and took Sutton into protective custody outside 21 Sunset Drive, where they found him with his hands up. Sutton told officers the shooting was in self defense, a statement he repeated later after he was arrested and read his Miranda rights at the Orange Police Department, and directed them to the .45-caliber pistol left unloaded on the rear porch deck.

“Maybe at worst we have excessive use of force in self defense,” Napan said.

Nappan said the aunt fully backs Sutton’s version of events and is seeking a restraining order against Drew.

Nappan said Sutton had made no attempt to flee after the shooting and there was no reason to believe he would, asking that he be released on personal recognizance.

A probable cause hearing is scheduled for Dec. 28.

UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester did not return a call for comment on Drew’s condition in time for publication.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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