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Cops and Courts

Trial begins for East Cleveland man accused of murder for hire

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    Patrick Gall speaks with his attorney J. Anthony Rich after the conclusion of day one of his murder trial on Tuesday.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE

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23732121

Patrick Gall speaks with his attorney J. Anthony Rich after the conclusion of day one of his murder trial on Tuesday.

KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE Enlarge

ELYRIA — Bruce Arnoff repeatedly threatened to take out a hit and have Willie Fisher killed, Fisher’s son testified Tuesday in the murder trial of one of the men accused in the slaying of Fisher.

Testimony in the jury trial of Patrick Gall began before Judge John Miraldi on Tuesday morning. Gall, 19, of East Cleveland, is one of three men police say was involved in a murder-for-hire plot to kill Fisher, whose body was found behind an East Avenue shopping plaza July 6.

Prosecutors have said Arnoff, 57, of Solon, paid Gall and John Sullivan, 30, of East Cleveland, $500 to kill Fisher, who had done odd jobs and handy work for Arnoff.

Eric Kilgore, Fisher’s son, said he heard Arnoff threaten Fisher several times. Kilgore then expanded on what he overheard Arnoff say.

“I’ll have you killed (expletive). You better know who the (expletive) you’re (expletive) with,” Kilgore testified. “I’ll put another hit out on your (expletive). I’ll kill you my-(expletive)-self. He also made a comment like that toward me when he said, ‘Your father almost got your (expletive) killed, too.’”

Kilgore said Fisher and Arnoff had an on-again, off-again relationship.

“Bruce and my father had a kind of relationship that was on-and-off like a relationship between a female and a man, you know?” he said. “They always argued and then somehow came back together. They’d argue again and come together.”

The two would argue about “simple” things such as why Fisher was taking so long to finish a job Arnoff had given him, Kilgore said.

Kilgore said he knew Sullivan, as well, but he had never met Gall.

Prosecutors have said they believe it was Sullivan who pulled the trigger and shot Fisher three times. On Monday, Assistant County Prosecutor Laura Dezort said Gall was complicit in the crime, which makes him just as accountable as if he’d pulled the trigger himself.

“This was a plan, a plot, that Mr. Arnoff, John Sullivan and Patrick Gall conspired with one another on,” Dezort said. “They planned. They plotted. They aided, abetted, encouraged and supported one another, all with one common purpose. They common purpose was that Willie Fisher was not going to live another day.”

The shooting of Fisher was caught on security cameras from different businesses in the shopping plaza. The jury was shown a 51-minute video that was a condensed version of 12 hours of footage caught from four different cameras that captured the moment before, during and after when the incident occurred.

The jury also was taken to the shopping plaza by a bus to see the scene for themselves.

After the shooting occurred, Gall and Sullivan left the scene in a black BMW owned by Arnoff, police have said.

Less than four hours later, Sullivan and Gall were stopped by Brooklyn police on Interstate 480 on an unrelated traffic stop. While Gall was released, Sullivan was held on an unrelated warrant out of Maple Heights; he also was charged with having weapons under disability.

During the stop, though, Gall told police his name was Saint-Velle Pruit. When police began to believe Sullivan and Gall were involved in the murder of Fisher, they put out a warrant for the arrest of Pruit.

Pruit, also of East Cleveland, turned himself in to Elyria police and told them he had nothing to do with the crime. He also told them that Gall had used his name before. Police then released him and issued a warrant for Gall.

Pruit testified Tuesday that he was not with John Sullivan when Brooklyn police stopped the BMW July 6.

Testimony in the trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. this morning.

Contact Scott Mahoney at 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.


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