Guns and drugs in New Castle.
Jury returns for second day of deliberation.
NEW CASTLE, Pennsilvania — The Oliva and Gilmore families were left in suspense overnight.
Common Pleas Judge J. Craig Cox dismissed the jurors deciding Ronald Gilmore’s fate around 6:30 p.m. Monday after 5 1/2 hours of deliberations.
They reconvened Tuesday morning to continue toward a verdict.
Following seven days of testimony from the city’s drug underworld, attorneys presented closing arguments for and against Gilmore.
He is accused of shooting Carmen Oliva three times in the head, execution-style, in his car on Feb. 12, 2005.
Gilmore is charged with criminal homicide, criminal conspiracy and illegal possession and use of a firearm. He is not allowed to carry a firearm because of a previous felony conviction for aggravated assault involving a shooting.
Should the jurors find Gilmore guilty of first-degree murder, the trial will enter a second phase where they will decide if he will receive the death penalty or life in prison.
Gilmore’s son, Kailin Stewart, and his friend, Andrae Jackson, are co-defendants and will be tried separately. They also face homicide and conspiracy-related charges in Oliva’s death.
Gilmore’s attorney, H. David Rothman of Pittsburgh, put his client on the witness stand Thursday, after plans to call other witnesses fell through.
The 75-year-old Rothman, dressed in a gray suit, turned the lectern to face the jury Monday. He then tore at the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses and argued Gilmore wasn’t the one who had shot Oliva.
Gilmore called the police voluntarily the Sunday after Oliva died, because he had been with him the past three days, Rothman said.
Rothman cast suspicion on Stewart and Jackson, reminding the jury Jackson had threatened to have Oliva killed as an alleged drug snitch, and that Stewart had sported a 9 mm handgun — the type that killed Oliva — in a holster.
“Jackson and Stewart were friends and co-drug dealers who had every motive and feared Oliva would go to the police,” he said.
“Carmen’s unfortunate slaughter was about 7:20 p.m. the same day Jackson threatened to have him killed. If he was going to pay anyone to do it, why wouldn’t he have hired that kid who was strutting around with a 9 mm gun in his holster?” Rothman reasoned.
District Attorney John Bongivengo countered that Gilmore had “plenty, plenty of motive,” and that motive was crack cocaine.
Gilmore had given Oliva money to buy drugs, he said.
He told the jury Gilmore got the gun from Stewart while they were visiting witness Robert “Trucker Bob” Comaduran’s apartment.
“He called his son to go up there.” Bongivengo said. “There’s your conspiracy.”
Gilmore, Stewart and Jackson had a problem to resolve, and Stewart handed his gun to his father, Bongivengo said.
Showing the jury a picture of Oliva’s car, Bongivengo noted the car was running and the passenger door was open when Oliva was found.
“This picture says Carmen knew this killer, Carmen trusted this killer and the killer was in his car,” he said.
Arguing a lone fingerprint on the car roof matched that of Gilmore’s left ring finger, Bongivengo reasoned that Gilmore “set his hand on that roof and put three bullets in the head of Carmen Oliva, then he ran.”
Gilmore shook his head as Bongivengo challenged the jury to find him guilty as a murderer.
Pointing at Gilmore, he said, “You are a murderer.”