Jury deliberating in weapons case against Pittsfield man
PITTSFIELD -- A Berkshire Superior Court jury is deciding the fate of a Pittsfield man accused of illegally keeping four firearms and more than 400 rounds of ammunition in his apartment.
Jurors on Wednesday afternoon received the criminal case of Gerald V. Gaetani and after two hours of deliberations, suspended their discussion of the 22 firearms-related charges against the 63-year-old defendant.
Judge Mary Lou Rup instructed the eight men and four women not to discuss or read about the trial before resuming deliberations at 9 a.m. on Thursday.
The prosecution contends Gaetani was in illegal possession of three large capacity weapons, and 12 magazines of ammunition between 15 and 30 rounds. In addition, Gaetani faces four counts of illegal storage of firearms and one count each of illegal possession of ammunition, a .32 caliber handgun and unlawful possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number.
Pittsfield police discovered the small arsenal in Gaetani's small apartment on Bradford Street during a search for his son, Justin, on March 3, 2013.
Second Assistant District Attorney Robert W. Kinzer III told the jury in his closing argument the father had to know the weapons and ammunition were in his residence, allegedly put there by his son.
"When you talk about knowledge you can make reasonable inferences," Kinzer said. "The two semi-automatic rifles were not hidden, but laying atop a laundry basket in his closet."
Defense Attorney Joshua Hochberg believes the prosecution failed to prove his client was fully aware of the firepower "hidden" under his roof.
"There is no evidence Gerald knew they were in his home ... and less evidence in his control," Hochberg said in his closing statement.
Hochberg's only witness was Justin Gaetani, 30, who testified on Wednesday that he had moved the weapons and ammunition from a self-storage facility he had been renting for two years to the elder Gaetani's apartment without his knowledge.
The trial opened Tuesday with Kinzer calling five witnesses in an effort to prove Gaetani was in possession of the weapons and ammunitions, even though he wasn't the owner. The prosecutor had said the definition of possession consists of three elements: a defendant's knowledge that the weapons were in the apartment; the defendant's ability to execute control over them; and his intent to exercise control over them.
Pittsfield Police Officer David Kirchner testified that officers went to Gaetani's apartment at the request of Dalton Police, who were looking for his son in connection with a vandalism incident. Kirchner said Gaetani let them into the apartment to look around. But Gaetani asked police to leave once Kirchner found the two semiautomatic rifles inside a bedroom closet.
Police placed Gaetani under arrest when it was determined he did not have a license to legally possess those weapons, Kirchner said. Armed with a search warrant, police later found the two handguns in the apartment.
Hochberg briefly cross-examined Kirchner on Tuesday, but declined to question the other four prosecution witnesses.
The younger Gaetani is currently serving a 5- to 8-year state prison sentence after being found guilty of 22 firearms-related charges following a Superior Court trial in April.
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