By Will E Sanders
TROY — In a bold move that may have shocked members of the gallery at the Patrick McGail murder trial, the defendant took to the witness stand Tuesday and testified before the jury of six men and six women who control his fate.
That same jury is expected to hear closing arguments in the case Wednesday morning from the prosecution and defense. Then, after being charged, they will begin deliberations into the Halloween eve murder of Nathan Wintrow, 20, of Troy.
McGail, charged with murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and firearm specifications, was the last witness of 25 others to take the stand over the five-day trial that involved testimony about masks, money, marijuana and murder.
In his own words, McGail, 17 at the time and being tried as an adult, told the jury he never entered 218 E. Canal St. on the night in question, distancing himself from his co-defendants, Jason C. Sowers, 17, and Brendon A. Terrel, 19, both of Troy.
Sowers, who shot Wintrow in the head with a 9mm, and Terrel, who acted as a look-out, entered into substantial assistance plea agreements that required them to testify against McGail, which they did Thursday.
Both teens, who will be sentenced at the conclusion of the trial, testified McGail was the “ringleader” and “mastermind” of the premeditated home invasion turned homicide.
Admitting he was nervous to his attorney, Christopher Bucio, McGail testified Tuesday he never went through with the robbery plan like his co-defendants did.
McGail said he fled from Sowers, Terrel and a well-known Troy drug dealer he called “a drug-crazed lunatic with a gun” after he realized they were being serious about committing the crime. Then, he said, the drug dealer, who the defense has portrayed as the real ringleader, took away his knife, had a gun, and threatened him to take part.
“I was beyond scared,” McGail said. “I was never that scared in all my life. … I said, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ … I ran away (toward downtown).”
Previous, incriminating testimony not only from Sowers and Terrel, but also from McGail’s then-girlfriend, Jessica Shelton, 18, implicated McGail, in addition to text messages and DNA recovered from the crime scene. Shelton previously testified McGail admitted to her on the night of the fatal shooting that he was inside Wintrow’s home with Sowers, that a gun was fired and a body fell to the ground.
Miami County Prosecutor Anthony Kendell cast that as his theme during his cross examination of McGail.
Kendell accused McGail of agreeing with all of the parts of his co-defendant’s and ex-girlfriend’s testimony that do not incriminate him, but disagreeing with all of the parts from their collective testimony that do incriminate him.
The defense rested after McGail testified, which lasted just under two hours.
The state did not present a rebuttal case.
McGail spent 26 days in a juvenile detention facility following the crime and is presently taking college classes while he is out on bail.
Will E Sanders may be reached at 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall.