Felon gun trial centers on statements, possession

By Joe Gorman



Whether a man with two felony convictions knew he had a gun and what he said to police when the gun was found are key points in a trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court this week.

Assistant Prosecutor Nick Brevetta and defense lawyer David Engler sparred, sometimes with a touch of theatrics, during closing arguments Wednesday over whether Gabriel Green, 30, of Norwood Avenue, knew he had a gun in a North Side home he was staying in March 10, 2014, that authorities visited serving a warrant looking for his father.

A jury was selected Monday before Judge Shirley Christian to hear the case, and they deliberated most of the afternoon before retiring for the evening.

They return today to continue their deliberations.

Green has a felony conviction in Mahoning County for possession of drugs in 2007 and in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court for failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer in 2009.

Because of those convictions, he cannot own or possess a gun.

In 2013, Green was found not guilty by a jury after a trial in Mahoning County before Judge John Durkin on charges of carrying a concealed weapon and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Police were serving a warrant at an address on the North Side for another person when they found a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol in a shoe box in a closet.

They also found several rounds of ammunition in a basement.

According to Brevetta, Green admitted he had a gun he purchased at a gun show in 2005 and asked the officers at the home, “‘I’m not allowed to have a .22?’”

Engler told jurors his client denied making those statements to police, members of the Violent Crimes Task Force who were serving the warrant. Engler also said police took no fingerprint or DNA samples to link the gun to Green and that the gun was in one box out of 20 boxes.

He said prosecutors have to prove Green “knowingly” acquired a weapon, and they failed to do that. Engler said the home was not Green’s where the gun was found.

“They don’t even get past the 50-yard line to prove their case, let alone reasonable doubt,” Engler said.

Engler gave most of his closing argument after he pulled up a chair and sat down facing the jury, saying he was having more of a “conversation” with them. When he was done, Brevetta applauded when he stood up to give his rebuttal, saying Engler had put on a great act.

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