Jan 28, 2011

Donnelly Trial moving forward Painful evidence for family and Jury

It was a very emotional day in Bridgeport Superior Court at The Donnelly murder trial, or " The State of Connecticut vs. Chris Dimeo", as it is technically known.

Today the State presented graphic videotaped evidence taken at the Donnelly Jewelery store crime scene by Police just an hour after the crimes occurred. Kim Donnelly was just barely hanging om to life at the scene when paramedics arrived and as such, her body had been removed via ambulance by the time the Fairfield police Forensic team took the crime scene footage.

There was an eerie feeling as the camera silently first took in the outside of the Donnelly's well known downtown fairfield store and entered via the front door, giving one the feeling that they were walking into the awful scene them self. Tim Donnelly's body could be seen almost immediately from a distance with  a blood spattered leg in tan trousers, but blood pools and splatters were everywhere and an outline of where Kim Donnelly body lay dying after being shot multiple times by Dimeo drew all eyes upon it and audible gasps and quiet crying could be heard from the Donnelly Family benches.

Dimeo was allegedly fueled by a heavy heroin addiction and was already wanted in the murder of a New York Jeweler at the time that he committed the Donnelly Murders. Tim and Kim Donnelly were beloved members of the Fairfield Community and had owned the jewelry store for years, their quaint store becoming a downtown fixture and well respect specialists in genuine Celtic jewelry.

As is usually the case, viewing the forensic evidence in a murder case, or any severely violent crime, brings that "case"  into  sharpened and necessary focus for the public, and in doing so, makes vivid and clear the reality of those violent ends that meet the poor victims of crimes like these.
It's essential. As unpleasant as it is.

I've come to understand that  in seeing the crime scene forensics, if not the actual bodies of the victims, at least the crime's scenes and evidence findings -  these are what makes it real. Never do I encourage the posting or sharing of crime scene photos or other evidence for the purposes of gratuitous interest or voyeuristic motivation.

That said, I believe that seeing the end result of these crimes hearing the 911 tapes, these are the things that ultimately finally get people to deal with and consider exactly what the victims of these  crime experienced. This is what happened with the stories finallly told about 911 as well as the 8-1-1 calls that were made public via the mousaaai trial-with permisssion of the Cosgrove and other families. To many people it was an awful tragedy that happned far away up in the skyscraper offices of a New york city Iconic Building.

The video's of people falling to thier deaths, the 911 tape of a man heard pleading with the operator for minutes saying he has to get out he has little kids and a wife, the operator trying to give him solace and then...rumbling and the unsuspecting man literally crying out "Oh God" dying on the phone as the south tower collapsed, he was huddled in an office on the 103rd floor.

These things change everything. They get in our face, usually when given the option we dont look-its too painful. But as in the 911 tapes sometimes getting in our face is just what we need. These images and voices caught on tape  jolt us into our humanity and out of our safe little shells. This, this  is what that crime is what it embodies; the victims terror, their pain their suffering. And only then, may we really be fairly ready to move on and consider the effects of the crimes and related trauma that is visited upon the family and loved ones of the victims, not once but thanks to an inefficient and often victim unfriendly judicial system- over and over again. Dragged out court process. Limitless Automatic Appeals on Death Sentence cases.. Parole releases

And in cases like the Donnelly murders and the Petit family murders, where each occurred in small towns, small communities, that trauma - and terror and loss of innocence, spreads like wildfire to the entire community, most of whom will go through all of the same stages of grief that the family does, only  at different paces and varying degrees.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg insofar as  how far reaching the effects of violent crime  truly becomes.  This murder case was allegedly about money-for- drugs. There was a presumed desperation about obtaining money in order to be able to feed the heroin habits of both Dimeo and his girlfriend both heavy users.

I recall looking at a photo of Jennifer Pierce, Dimeo's then girlfriend in a recent Post article ; she was dressed up for court so she was undoubtedly trying to look her best. She had a simple modest dress a wide pleasant cherubic face with blondish hair. She was outside of the courthouse apparently on her way in. The Photo really struck me.

Unlike the photos of Pierce where she was somewhat bedraggled looking, likely kicking heroin,  donning handcuffs an orange prison jumpsuit, snapped soon after the murders,  she looked haggard and detached, In this recent photo  one could see she a tremendous difference-older wiser, humility. likely clean off  drugs, she looked every bit  the pleasant young woman next to you in the grocery line. Certainly not an evil  accomplice to three brutal robbery/ murders.

 aadmittedly she did not actually kill anyone herself and she advised  Dimeo to stay away from or watch out for the manager of the jewelry store that she'd originally cased out for him that day; shed explained that he was big and appeared the type to put up a fight.

Dimeo was undeterred, he robbed the store after pretending to shop for a engagement ring for 20 minutes or so, and as soon as the women went into the back room, they heard glass breaking shouting and gun shots. They saved their lives by running out of the back door. The manager, the jewelry store owners son in law was not as lucky. He died having been shot multiple times. The owner of that store testified in the Donnelly case as well. His ex Ms. Pierce is expected to testify and possibly have a big impact on the sentencing portion of the trial, this where the judge instructs the jury to decide between life and the death penalty. In order to avoid a death sentence Dimeos lawyers have to present a mitigating factor to be considered by the Jury regarding the crimes; the obvious culprit will be his heroin addition which from what I have read was heavily documented as he was an IV drug user and this is something that you cannot fake.

Nicole Pierce was also addicted to heroin at the time of these murders and this was obviously a driving force for her to be in concert with Dimeo. He was someone who could and would provide a steady supply of this expensive drug that she was severely addicted to -opiates are not a drug that someone can simply stop taking-withdrawal symptoms are horrific.

 Dimeo was little more than a basic thug with a bad habit, so he needed Pierce's help re the logistics of these robberies. From all appearances it seems that Dimeo was the less intelligent of the pair and prone to unnecessary violence, especially when high on heroin, which at that point in his life was around the clock .

She was originally going to go with Dimeo but at the last moment she begged off later citing that she was afraid he would kill someone, and she decided to take a train back to New York city to the motel where they had been hiding out since the  robbery turned homicide in New York. several months earlier. The New York Police already suspected Dimeo in the robbery murder as well as a string of other robberies that fortunately did not end in murder.

Dimeo was captured in New York and since the NY murder occurred first, he was tried there before being extradited to Connecticut to face the Donnelly murder charges. Knowing that there was a death penalty in Connecticut - as opposed to New York-he fought the Connecticut extradition for as long as he could. He knew New York authorities had the cooperation of his girlfriend as well as video tape evidence connecting him to the NY murder robbery.

Pierce received a somewhat shortened sentence in exchange for her testimony although she
still received considerable time for acting as a scout and look out. As I mentioned in an earlier post, she has since been diagnosed with stage three cancer but has agreed to testify for the Dimeo trial despite being in the middle of vigourous chemo treatments.

A few interesting links...

Superior Court