TRUMANSBURG, N.Y. — Burglary that turned fatal early Saturday morning in Trumansburg appears to have been sparked by a $2,300 theft that happened in late December, court records indicate.
Police said Jennifer Ecker, Gregory Fish, and Patrick Mutter all broke into a home at 37 W. Main St. around 1:45 a.m. Saturday.
At the home, resident Lee Kanellis and a friend were allegedly attacked by the two men, leading to a fight that left Mutter with fatal stab wounds.
Ecker, 27, and Fish, 32, have been charged with felony second-degree burglary.
District Attorney Matt Van Houten said Saturday that there is no initial indication that the killing was an “unjustifiable homicide.”
Court records detail the following narrative about the incident Saturday, linking it to a grand larceny report from December:
On Dec. 29, Ecker reported to Trumansburg police that a man named Eric T. Lynch, 40, stole about $2,200 from under her mattress while the two were hanging out until the early morning hours.
She said that when she confronted Lynch about the money — with a body camera provided by the Trumansburg Police Department — he gave her $1,500 and a watch, saying he would give her the rest of the money within a few days.
Lynch was subsequently charged with felony fourth-degree grand larceny and released on an appearance ticket.
Between late Friday night and early Saturday morning, Lynch ran into Ecker and two men — Gregory Fish and Patrick Mutter — at The Silver Line Tap Room on 19 W. Main St.
Lynch returned to his apartment at 37 W. Main St. around 12:30 a.m. and told his roommate, Lee Kanellis, that the two men had “started a problem with him so he left.” Lynch told Kanellis that the men were giving him a “hard time” because Ecker accused him of stealing money from her.
Lynch eventually left the apartment to go back to the bar, but returned within a few minutes to tell Kanellis that he was going to a friend’s house instead.
Within 10 to 15 minutes after Lynch left, Kanellis told police that somebody started kicking the door of their apartment. When the door was opened, Fish was standing there asking for Lynch.
“I told them he wasn’t at the apartment and Fish said he knew Lynch was there, and he got in my face and we went back and forth about it for a couple minutes, and then Fish grabbed me by my sweatshirt and was trying to pull me out onto the porch,” Kanellis told police in a voluntary statement.
Kanellis and a friend who was at the apartment were able to close the door, but Kanellis said Mutter smashed his head through a window, and both Fish and Mutter were able to shortly afterward enter the home through the front door while Kanellis said he tried to call 911.
He said that he grabbed a Bowie knife that he keeps by the television and displayed it to Fish and Mutter.
Kanellis said he swung the knife at Mutter as the man approached him. Mutter hit him on the side of the left side of his head, causing Kanellis to trip backward over a coffee table and onto a recliner.
Kanellis said in a statement,”I was pointing the knife in his direction. He comes at me like he is going to choke me, so I poked him in the side with the knife. He reeled back and got pissed. The guy jumped towards me and onto the knife. He pushes off the chair and stands up. He grabbed his side. I didn’t see any blood at that time.”
Kanellis then said he turned his attention to his friend who was being attacked by Fish and calling for help. Kanellis said he was trying to put Fish in a headlock when they all heard Ecker scream.
Kanellis said they all turned to see Mutter bleeding as he fell into a chair. Kanellis said he tried to stop the bleeding and called 911, but mistakenly gave dispatch the wrong address — a jumbled combination of his own address and his parents’ address. Fish also called 911.
“I never meant to hurt the guy,” Kanellis said.
Police are still investigating the incident. Kanellis is not facing any charges as of Monday afternoon.
Lynch is scheduled to appear at 6 p.m. Monday at the Ulysses Town Court to answer to the grand larceny charge.