Gabriel Truitt was arraigned for 1st Degree Murder, 2 counts of 2nd Degree Murder, and Arson. Police believe he got into an argument with his ex-girlfriend and then set fire a house on Walling Avenue where his ex-girlfriend lived. Former firefighter John Heller also lived in the complex and died in the fire trying to save the occupants inside. Police had arrested Terrence Truitt for the fire as he was found covered in soot, but Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl tells us his statements and video evidence told a different story.
"After he told us his story and it was corroborated by the video, video surveillance that we had, as well as it’s simply the timeline. We knew that it wasn’t him and it was in fact his brother that had started the fire."
Now it was a matter of finding Gabriel Truitt. Strangely enough it was one of Truitt’s own children that wrote about him in a school journal that gave away his position.
Police had been searching for Gabriel Truett for weeks, only to discover he’d been living in a house right behind the police department.
Gabriel Truitt’s Attorney Lee Kindlon believes a jury will find his client not guilty after hearing the facts in this case.
"The police department was initially investigating the brother, and I’ve been helping counsel them through everything that’s been going on, and then when the attention started to turn to Gabriel and all the witness statements started to almost take a 180 degree turn, I was helping give them advice through the whole thing."
The District Attorney requested the highest bail ever for Otsego County. $1million cash or $2 million bond. Truitt has a significant criminal history with felony and misdemeanor convictions, so Otsego County Court Judge Brian Burns remanded Truitt to the Otsego County Jail without bail. The District Attorney said bail was based on how the crime was committed.
"It’s hard to believe that it ever came about the way it did. It’s hard to believe that anybody would have done what this individual is alleged to have done, and the consequences were terrible. I don’t know what to say other than that. It’s a very sad case for the family of the deceased."
The next step in this process is a pre-trial conference, and that’s scheduled for May 24th at 9 am.