911 recordings played in second day of homicide trial of Michael Harrigan

On the stand, police officers talked about evidence collection, three firearms and interviewing Harrigan

February 08, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Michael Harrigan
Michael Harrigan

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Jurors in Franklin County Court listened to emotional 911 recordings during the second day of testimony in the trial of Michael Harrigan, who is charged with criminal homicide in the shooting death of his neighbor.

"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God," Harrigan's wife repeated in a 911 call after the gunshot, her words mixed with hysterical gasping.

Both the prosecution and defense say Harrigan, 30, fatally shot 47-year-old Steven Wetzel early May 27, 2010, on Blue Ridge Avenue in Washington Township, Pa.

But defense attorneys James Reed and Scott Rolle said Harrigan acted in self-defense when provoked outside his home twice in three hours.

Tuesday's testimony started with two patrol officers who first responded to a disturbance call on the Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., street. They later returned to what started as a call for another disturbance, then escalated to "shots fired" only seconds after the dispatcher answered.

Harrigan's wife, Marta, placed both calls. In the second, calling from inside the couple's 13799 Blue Ridge Ave. house at around 1 a.m., she told the 911 operator "the gentleman has come back, and he's threatening my husband again."

"Is that him I am hearing?" the 911 operator asked a moment before a muffled noise.

"Marta, what was that?" the operator asked.

In the recording, the woman is heard gasping and saying, "I don't know, I don't know." She said she doesn't want to go outside.

"I just heard him yell at my husband and ...," she said trailing off.

"I'm afraid to look," she said.

Marta Harrigan then apparently stepped out the door, asking her husband where he is and what happened. She said he told her to call 911.

"Mike, you've got to tell me what's going on," she said.

With the call to 911 still connected, Marta commented on the arrival of police and their actions to put Michael Harrigan in handcuffs.

"Where are they taking him?" she asked. "This isn't happening."

Also on the stand Tuesday, several Washington Township police officers talked about evidence collection, three firearms and interviewing Michael Harrigan.

Assistant District Attorney Jeremiah Zook asked them whether Wetzel's body had a weapon on or near it, and all answered they did not seen any weapon.

A recording of two interviews with Harrigan ended the day's testimony.

In them, Harrigan said he was outside when he heard Wetzel approaching on the street. Harrigan said he had a pistol and shotgun with him when he spoke to Wetzel.

"I've got the two people I love the most in that house. I'm not going to go to sleep," Harrigan said when a detective asked why he was outside and if he planned to shoot Wetzel.

Harrigan claimed in the audio recording that Wetzel verbally threatened him.

"He had it out for me, I know that. He said he was going to beat the (expletive) out of me all night. He said more people was going to die on the street," Harrigan said.

The defense argued that Wetzel threw off his bandana and sunglasses, then started moving toward Harrigan, who was in his side yard.

"When he threw his (expletive) down and came at me, that's when I fired," Harrigan said.

The prosecution is expected to rest when court resumes this morning. The judge and attorneys have said they anticipate the trial continuing through Thursday.

Criminal homicide is an umbrella charge and under it, the jury could choose to find Harrigan guilty of several offenses, the most serious which is first-degree murder.

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