Newfield, N.Y. — Around 1 p.m. in the town of Newfield on April 30, 2013, a man pulled out a gun and said that he was only going to ask one more time.
“Where is my weed?” he said. “Where is my money?”
The answer was apparently unsatisfactory. The man lowered his pistol and shot Corey Heffron in the right leg.
“As soon as I got shot, pain ran through me, and I fell to the floor,” Heffron said, according to police documents that provide this account.
The man then turned to Matthew Dewey and again said, “Where is my weed? Where is my money?”
Dewey said that he did not know anything about the weed or money. The man then cocked the pistol and shot Dewey point blank in the face.
Dewey crumpled onto the ground. The shooter left his victims bleeding on the floor, went outside and sped off in his gold and grey SUV.
A double shooting
On June 16, a Tompkins County jury found Donnell Harrison, 36, guilty of assault in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, according to a press release from the district attorney’s office.
Extensive police records have now been made public that show what precipitated the double shooting and its aftermath.
At some point before the shooting, Harrison had been robbed of marijuana and money, according to these records.
Harrison claimed he had proof that Dewey and Heffron had stolen from him, and went to their home in Newfield to confront them.
According to Dewey’s statement to police, Harrison had supplied him with drugs in the past, and had been “dropping hints” that he was upset about the lost marijuana and money.
“He was trying to get Corey and me to go in his car with him,” Dewey said. “He made up stupid stories to get us to go. I felt something was up so I did not go with him.”
On April 30, records show, Harrison came to their home at 150 Depot Way. Dewey was trying to sell Harrison a Nintendo Wii game, but Harrison wanted to discuss the robbery.
“He said: ‘I know you two did it and I have proof!’” Heffron said. “I told him that we didn’t do it.”
Harrison continued to accuse the men, and said, “I’m going to give you one more chance to tell me the truth,” according to Heffron.
When both men denied involvement, Harrison pulled a gun out of his waistband, a “full size semi automatic pistol, like a 9mm black Beretta,” according to Dewey.
“He stated, ‘I’m going to give you one more last warning, you better tell me the truth!’” Heffron said. “I told him we didn’t take his stuff. He then lowered the pistol and shot me in the right leg.”
Harrison then shot Dewey in the face from around two yards away, according to records. Both men were left on the floor of Dewey’s bedroom.
Dewey was “terrified that he might die,” records say.
“I was having a hard time seeing,” Dewey said. “Everything was blurry and spinning.”
Dewey had been shot in his left cheek and Heffron had been shot in his right leg, but the bullet traveled through his left leg and may have caused nerve damage, Heffron said.
“Somehow, Matthew was able to get up and help me walk to the living room,” Heffron said. “I called 911, and Matthew went outside and waited for help.”
According to the DA’s office, Harrison immediately fled to New York City, where he was apprehended by the U.S. Marshals Service on June 18, 2013.
A defense dismissed
Harrison was charged in Newfield Town Court on June 21, 2013, and a preliminary felony hearing was held, according to court documents.
The case was presented to the grand jury on August 1, and Harrison was indicted on August 8. He was charged with attempted murder in the second degree, assault in the first degree, and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, according to court documents.
Harrison was not released on bail.
Judge Judith Rossiter held a pretrial conference on September 19, 2013, and issued a decision regarding the sufficiency of the grand jury proceedings.
Harrison’s lawyers attempted to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that their client did not get adequate notification about his impending presentation before the grand jury.
This motion was dismissed, as the defendant had already attended a preliminary hearing in Newfield Town Court, so the prosecution was not required to give notice of presentation to grand jury, according to records.
Rossiter held another pretrial conference on October 29, 2013, regarding the legality of the grand jury proceedings. The defense moved to dismiss the count of attempted murder in the second degree, as the grand jury had not voted upon this specific charge.
Harrison’s charges were reduced to assault in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Harrison had attempted murder.
On February 26, 2014, Investigator Rumsey testified that although Dewey was under the influence of pain medication during his interview, he was nonetheless able to render a clear-headed statement, according to records.
The court also found that the procedure through which Harrison was identified — through the witness accounts of Dewey and Heffron — was “reasonable, and there was no evidence that it was suggestive.”
Suppression of evidence?
Also in February, a hearing was held in February to determine whether evidence gained from a conversation between Harrison and an investigator should be suppressed.
According to records, Investigator Jody Coombs responded to an inmate request from Harrison, who continued to assert that he had been robbed in April. He wrote: “I want an investigation to go on at my house, and I am requesting to speak to the responding officer regarding my issue.”
Coombs said that responding to inmate requests was both typical and necessary, because the inmate might have information about another crime.
Coombs testified that Harrison was not read his Miranda rights nor asked Harrison if he wanted an attorney.
Harrison insisted that his home had been robbed by Dewey and Heffron. The prosecution asserted that this was inculpatory evidence, as Harrison had described his relationship with the victims.
The court ruled that this information could be used during the trial, as the statement was spontaneous and not the result of “inducement, provocation, or encouragement,” according to court records.
On June 16, Harrison was convicted after the jury deliberated for around 45 minutes, the DA’s office said. Harrison faces a minimum sentencing of 10 years and a maximum of 25 years.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 16.