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TRUMBULL MURDER TRIAL Lawyer says client wasn't in on plans



Published: Wed, May 16, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Prosecutors said the defendant confessed the crimes.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A defense attorney representing a 35-year-old man facing aggravated murder charges told jurors her client had no part in the planning of the crime and fired no weapons.

Atty. Melissa Dinsio, who along with Atty. John Fowler represents Dennis Gossett of Colt Street, told jurors during opening statements Tuesday that the evidence will show that Gossett's fingerprints will not be found at the crime scene or on any murder weapons.

"Dennis was not around when this happened, and Dennis did not shoot anyone," Dinsio said. "Dennis left his home and went in a car with the co-defendants in the case, but he had no idea what they planned to do. When Dennis found out what they were planning, he told them it was stupid and tried to talk them out of it."

Prosecutors, however, said during their opening statements that Gossett confessed the crimes.

Charges: Gossett, 35, faces two charges of aggravated murder, a charge of attempted murder, two charges of kidnapping and a charge each of aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.

If convicted, he faces up to 53 years to life in prison. Gossett's trial began Monday in the courtroom of Judge John Stuard of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

Gossett, Eric Porterfield, 28, also of Colt Street, and Ronald Shaffer, 20, of Newton Falls, were indicted in the June 23 shooting deaths of Garry D. Bell, 40, of 3066 state Route 5, Leavittsburg, and Charles Mathey III, 40, of Milton Boulevard, Newton Falls.

Shaffer and Porterfield also were indicted on attempted murder charges.

Police said Porterfield and Shaffer shot David Harper, 38, of Prospect Street, Newton Township, in the same crime. Harper, who was shot three times, survived.

Shaffer has been convicted of all the charges and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Porterfield pleaded guilty to the charges April 2 but then withdrew his guilty pleas May 4. His trial is now set for October.

Police account: Police said Gossett was with Shaffer and Porterfield shortly before they went to Harper's home. Shaffer and Porterfield went to Harper's home to rob him of money and drugs, police said.

Dinsio noted that on June 23 the three parked the car at a local bar and then Shaffer and Porterfield walked through woods to get to Harper's home. Dinsio said Gossett stayed near the car.

"Moments after they left, Dennis heard gunfire and a window break and he ducked down to cover himself. He was scared," Dinsio said. "The only reason he got back in the car with them was because he was afraid of Porterfield."

sinkovich@vindy.com




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