- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

July 27—A witness whom the state was counting on at a hearing Monday for a man accused in the 2011 shooting death of Jaclyn Wirth in Norwich was admitted to the psychiatric ward at The William W. Backus hospital over the weekend.

Judge Hillary B. Strackbein listened to testimony from four witnesses at a probable cause hearing for LaShawn “BI” Cecil and continued the case to Wednesday, when William Colello, whose specific knowledge of the crime has not been made public, is expected to be released from the hospital.

Cecil, 35, is charged with shooting through the door of Wirth’s apartment at 6D East Baltic St in the Mohegan Park Apartment complex on Dec. 14, 2011, striking her multiple times. The police allege Cecil worked as a “runner” for drug dealer Harold K. “Haas” Butler, and that he shot Wirth while trying to collect money owed to Butler by Ezekiel “Juney” Boyce, the brother of Wirth’s boyfriend.

As a defendant in a murder case, Cecil was exercising his right Monday to a hearing at which the state must prove to a judge that the crime probably occurred and that Cecil probably was the perpetrator.

Prosecutor Stephen M. Carney set the scene by eliciting testimony from first responders and playing a heartrending 911 call that Wirth made at 1:41 a.m. as she lay on the floor, bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds, in front of her two young children.

Jesse Kamienski, a chef who was incarcerated from October 2014 to February 2015 for nonpayment of child support. testified that as he was riding in a judicial marshal transport van after a court appearance last winter, he heard Cecil tell the man next to him that “he had to shoot through the door and he didn’t know there was kids in the house.”

The state is hoping to elicit stronger testimony from Colello, who Carney said was hospitalized over the weekend after police were called due to concerns about his mental health. If Colello is able to testify Wednesday, Strackbein told defense attorney William T. Koch Jr. she would allow Koch “wide latitude” during cross-examination on the subject of Colello’s hospitalization.

The judge rejected Koch’s motion to subpoena Colello’s medical records and have Strackbein review them to determine if they should be allowed into evidence. Strackbein said Koch had not met the threshold for proving that Colello’s ability to recall events would be affected by his hospitalization.

“It’s a probable cause hearing and murder is charged,” Koch had argued. “He’s the state’s critical witness as far as I can tell. I was told he went on a gambling binge and lost a lot of money, that he’s anxious, he’s depressed and that’s why police were contacted. He’s been admitted and he’s at the psychiatric ward of the hospital.”

As they laid their case out in an arrest warrant affidvit, investigators cited several unnamed witnesses who provided key information, including one man who said he drove Butler and Cecil to the apartment in a rented Chrysler 300, and that Butler instructed Cecil to go see Boyce. Butler, who is currently serving a 64-month prison sentence for selling drugs, told police Cecil had used his car to sell drugs that night and that Butler spent the night at the Mai Thai restaurant before Collelo, a friend, drove him home around 1 a.m.

During the playback of the 911 call, Cecil, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, leaned sideways in his chair and at one point shook his head slightly. The courtroom remained silent, except for the sound of Wirth’s family members sniffling. On the witness stand, Jacqueline Martel, the now-retired Norwich dispatcher who had comforted Wirth for several minutes while sending police and ambulance crews to the scene, used a tissue to wipe away tears.

“I heard something,” Wirth told the dispatcher between moans and labored breaths. “I woke up. I went in the hallway and they shot through the door. Please hurry, I’m about to pass out.”

As the life ebbed out of her, Wirth told the dispatcher she was “pouring out blood” and begged responders to hurry. In the background, her 7-year-old son, Sergio, cried and screamed, “I don’t want you to pass out, Mom!”

Wirth told her son to open the door for police when they arrived, then, sounding panicky, emphasized he should not open the door until the police arrived.

Patrolman Scott DuPointe, the first officer into the apartment, testified he saw shell casings on the stairs leading to Wirth’s second-floor apartment and the wooden door of the apartment had nine bullet holes in it. Wirth was lying on her left side on the floor, about 15 feet inside the door.

“The first thing she said to me was, ‘Please tell them to hurry. I’m going to die,’ ” DuPointe testified.

Wirth told DuPointe that she had no problem with anyone and that her boyfriend was in jail.

Patrolman Mark Dean testified that as he sped to the scene along the quiet early morning streets of the city, he noticed a Chrysler 300 with Florida license plates parked on Norwich Avenue with its lights on. Dean said he told the detectives about the car the next day, but they didn’t ask him about it and he did not include it in his report of the incident. He said that during his patrols of Taftville, he had seen the car several times on Shetucket Avenue.

Last year, as city police continued to investigate with help from the New London County Cold Case Task Force, detective Kyle Besse asked Dean about the car and Dean added a paragraph about it to his police report.

[email protected]”>[email protected]

Twitter: @KFLORIN

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