Monday, August 10, 2020 Elyria 88°

Cops and Courts

Jury should get murder-for-hire case Monday


ELYRIA — Shortly after the state rested in its case in the murder trial of Patrick Gall, Gall’s defense attorney, J. Anthony Rich, rested his case without presenting any witnesses.

Gall, 19, of East Cleveland faces charges of aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault and tampering evidence in connection to the slaying of Willie Fisher, 47, whose body was found behind an East Avenue shopping plaza July 6. Prosecutors have said Gall and John Sullivan, 30, of East Cleveland, were paid $500 to kill Fisher by Bruce Arnoff, 59, of Solon.

Friday was expected to be the fourth day of testimony in the jury trial of Gall, with Rich cross-examining Elyria police Detective Dan Sumpter, who was the lead detective on the case. When court proceedings began Friday morning, though, Rich said he would not be asking Sumpter any questions.

Rich explained in court that prosecutors had not played a recorded jail call made by his client, which Rich felt was overly prejudicial, and he did not want to take the chance of the call coming up during his cross-examination of Sumpter. Rich had made a motion to suppress the call from being entered as evidence in the case, but Judge John Miraldi denied the motion.

The call was played in open court for Miraldi to review earlier in the week, while the jury was not in the courtroom.

On it, Gall could be heard talking to a woman, whom prosecutors identified as his girlfriend. Gall told the woman, “I’m a hit man, though” and that he would “knock that (expletive) off for the right price.”

Rich argued that the context of the call was unclear. He offered that the call may have been a reference to sex.

Prosecutors, however, said the call should be admissible since Gall was accused of being involved in a murder-for-hire plot that resulted in the shooting death of a man.

The state rested immediately after Rich declined to cross-examine Sumpter. Rich then said he would not be presenting any evidence or witnesses on behalf of his client. He also said Gall had chosen to exercise his Fifth Amendment right and would not testify.

Rich also hadn’t given an opening statement when the trial began Tuesday. He said he reserved his right to give an opening statement if and when he presented a case in defense of his client.

After the defense rested, Miraldi brought the jury into the courtroom and told them he would be sending them home for the day while the state and defense worked out jury instructions. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Monday, and the jury is expected to begin deliberating on the case by Monday afternoon.

Contact Scott Mahoney at (440) 329-7146 or Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.

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