Final Prosecution Witnesses Testify Monday In Wilhite Murder Retrial
The final prosecution witnesses testified today (Monday) in the murder retrial of Charles Wilhite. He's the Springfield man charged in the October 2008 shooting death of another man at the behest of a shop owner in the city's Six Corners neighborhood. The prosecution contends Angel Hernandez, the owner of the Pine Street Market paid Charles Wilhite to shoot 28 year old Alberto Rodriguez. Among those called to the stand was Madelyn Dones, the victim's girlfriend, who testified that there had been an ongoing feud for at least a year between Rodriguez and Hernandez. She testified that on October 13, 2008, the day before Rodriguez was shot, she had picked him up in her car in front of the store after he fought with two young Hispanic men. As they drove past the store, she says her boyfriend pointed her child's bobble-head toy at Hernandez and shouted “Bang!”; prompting the store owner to hit the ground. She briefly broke down after describing her visit to Baystate Medical Center the next day to see Rodriguez' body following the shooting. Wilhite was not mentioned in her testimony. And another prosecution witness, Abinal Zayas, testified he heard the gun shots but did not see who fired them. Both Wilhite and Hernandez were convicted in 2010 of the murder. But Wilhite was granted a new trial last year after Nathan Perez, another prosecution witness, claimed he had been coerced by police into identifying Wilhite as the gunman. One of those he accused was Springfield detective Anthony Pioggia, the prosecution's final witness. He denied threatening Perez with prosecution if he did not name Wilhite as the shooter. The defense is scheduled to present their witnesses tomorrow (Tuesday) and the jury could get the case by as early as Wednesday morning.