LIVINGSTON COUNTY – Seven witnesses took the stand on the second day of a lightning-fast felony trial for Christopher Bricks, 29, who is accused of Burglary in the Second Degree, Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, and Criminal Possession of a Weapon for the alleged theft of a shotgun from a Dansville woman he says is an associate in the business of dealing cocaine.
Bricks, the sole witness for the defense, says that the alleged victim, Dawn LaForce, of Dansville, was a part of his drug network, and owed him $300 for two ‘8 balls,’ or a total of 7 grams of cocaine which he gave her to supplement her stock, and offered him the Remington 1187 semiautomatic shotgun to make right by Bricks.
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“I didn’t steal this woman’s shotgun, I had permission,” said Bricks. “She told me to ‘come and pick it up tomorrow.’ I would have took it the same night, but I wasn’t about to go walking around town with a shotgun as a convicted felon.”
District Attorney Greg McCaffrey called six witnesses who were involved with the alleged theft and investigation.
Dawn LaForce and her son Joseph Jr., 20, both took the stand, explaining that Bricks had no permission to be in the house or take the gun.
Danielle Royce, 31, who drove Bricks to the LaForce’s house on the day he removed the gun, testified that she had no knowledge of what was being taken and had no reason to think that the long object hidden in a blanket was illegal.
William “Unk” McDoweLL, to whom the shotgun was given minutes after it was removed from the LaForce home, testified that to his knowledge at the time, Bricks, his nephew “by marriage only,” had brought the gun as a gift to fuel his passion for deer hunting, and he immediately surrendered it to Dansville Police when they came to investigate a few hours after the gun was reported as stolen.
Dansville Police Chief Charles Perkins testified that he has known Bricks for many years as a fellow resident of Dansville, and that after denying in May any knowledge of the disappearance of the shotgun, appeared at the Police Station in June to explain that the gun was offered as payment for the drug debt.
Lastly, forensic firearms examiner Richard Hoepfl with the Monroe County Crime lab testified that the firearm was fully operable.
Bricks has been convicted of two Burglaries and one Tampering with Physical Evidence in his past, a total of three felonies, and is currently on parole for one of those burglaries. However, as the defense, John Darpino with the Public Defender’s Office, took care to establish, Bricks has taken plea deals on these past three felonies and has never taken a felony charge to trial.
In order to convict Bricks of Burglary, the jury must believe that he entered the LaForce home with the intent to commit a crime therein. DA McCaffrey’s primary burden is to prove that Bricks was indeed in the house unlawfully, making the possession of the shotgun as a convicted felon and the taking of the blanket with which he covered the gun grounds to find him guilty of burglary. Otherwise, he would only be guilty of Criminal Possession of a Weapon, which is part of this indictment, or Petit Larceny, which was not indicted and cannot be charged in this trial.
The jury was dismissed at about 2:45 p.m., and will be back in court tomorrow for the attorney’s summations, to be instructed on the legal details and definitions of each charge by County Judge Robert Wiggins, and to deliberate.
PHOTO CAPTION: Christopher Bricks. (Photo/Livingston County Sheriff’s Office)