Officer Nicholas Gianquitti
WARWICK — The 911 call came in at 3:11 p.m.
Nicholas Gianquitti had just shot his next-door neighbor, Jim Pagano.
And the shooter’s wife, Jennifer, was on the phone –– screaming, incoherent.
“Please!” she seemed to be yelling. “Please!”
She asked for an ambulance. She said her husband was a retired police officer.
Then Nicholas took the phone. Calmer.
And in the chaos, a nascent defense: The neighbor had come to his house, he said. The neighbor had pushed him down the stairs.
“I drew my weapon and I shot him,” Nicholas Gianquitti told the 911 operator.
“I was afraid for my life,” he said.
“He’s on my property,” he said. “I’m in the right.”
Prosecutors played the 911 call in court yesterday as the bail hearing for Gianquitti, a former Providence police officer charged with murdering Pagano on May 18, stretched into a second day.
The hearing will resume this afternoon with testimony from Dr. Alexander Cherkov, the assistant state medical examiner, who conducted an autopsy on Pagano.
District Court Judge Elaine Bucci is expected to make a ruling within days –– holding Gianquitti without bail, as the case moves to a grand jury for indictment, or setting bail.
Pagano’s father, sister and nephew testified Monday that the family was hosting a birthday party for Pagano’s son Louie, 9, the day of the shooting.
There were grandparents there. Aunts and cousins, too.
Five of the children were outside playing baseball, with an aluminum bat and tennis ball, when a foul ball struck Gianquitti’s car and wedged between the spoiler and trunk.
Gianquitti swore at the children, according to testimony. And Pagano, with his 72-year-old father in tow, went to confront his neighbor in the raised ranch at 16 Daisy Court in Cranston.
There were words. Pagano, a Cranston firefighter, took a swing at Gianquitti and wound up in the foyer.
Gianquitti stumbled down a five-step set of stairs and drew a silver .380-caliber handgun from his waistband.
Gianquitti fired at Pagano, according to testimony, and chased him out of the house –– firing again.
Witnesses said Monday that they heard three gun shots –– one fired inside the house and two outside.
But Cranston Detective Peter J. Souza testified yesterday that the police found evidence of just two shots –– one fired inside the house and one outside.
One of the shots struck a curb across the street and ricocheted into a bush at the end of Gianquitti’s driveway, Souza testified.
That shot could not have been fired from the bottom of the stairs inside Gianquitti’s house, he said.
The clear implication: the first shot, fired from inside the house, at the base of the stairs, was the shot that struck and eventually killed Pagano –– tearing through his aorta, pancreas and liver.
Cranston police officer Christine Bolduc was dispatched to Rhode Island Hospital at 3:45 that afternoon.
Bolduc testified yesterday that she was never able to speak to the shooting victim, who was taken from the emergency room to the operating table while she was at the hospital.
But the officer did take Pagano’s clothing back to police headquarters as evidence –– a single white sneaker, a white sock, a gray T-shirt, a pair of underwear and a pair of blue jeans with a belt running through the loops.
The jeans and belt, she said, had small imperfections –– semicircles consistent with the strike of a bullet.
The bullet, it seemed, had entered Pagano’s body on his lower left side, in the rear.
Details of the entry point and the dispute that led to the shooting are all a part of the state’s attempt to demonstrate a prima facie case for murder.
Bucci, the judge, must determine whether the state has made that prima facie case, weigh the strength of the state’s evidence and its chances for success at trial, and evaluate Gianquitti’s potential to flee or endanger public safety before deciding whether to set bail.
Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch, who slipped into the courtroom during the hearing yesterday, suggested his office was making a strong case for holding Gianquitti without bail.
The events of May 18, he said, were “prompted by one person’s callous disregard for life.”
But Gianquitti’s lawyers, William Devine and Mark Dana, have worked to chip away at that case over the last two days.
They have suggested that Gianquitti told Pagano to “get out of here,” before firing the first shot from inside the house.
They have implied that Gianquitti did not taunt the shooting victim as he lay dying –– as Pagano’s father, Anthony, suggested in testimony Monday.
They have suggested that Gianquitti, who was crying as the 911 tape played yesterday, felt threatened.
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