By Adam Federman, VTDigger
The gun used in a fatal shooting in Poultney over the weekend was obtained in an early morning robbery and assault in Fair Haven in November, police said.
William Bailey, 19, and Jonathan Testa, 21, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Daniel Hein, 19. Both defendants say they thought the weapon wasn’t loaded when Bailey allegedly pulled the trigger.
Bailey called 911 early Sunday, Dec. 18, and said he had shot Hein, according to police. The police affidavit said Bailey, Testa, Hein and Dylan Czarnecki, 21, were all in Bailey’s car at Hein’s residence when the gun was fired. The four sat in a car in the driveway of a home on Grove Street in Poultney after a night of drinking and smoking marijuana.
Bailey later told police that Testa told him the gun was unloaded. Bailey also told police that Hein challenged him to point the gun at him and pull the trigger if he thought it was empty. Another person in the car told him to “Go ahead, do it,” according to the affidavit. Police say Bailey shot Hein in the head, dropped the firearm and yelled, “Oh, my God, what do I do?”
Testa and Czarnecki both panicked and fled, police allege. Bailey drove to his girlfriend’s house and contacted emergency services.
Police say Testa, who had allegedly stolen a credit card, was making arrangements to have a taxi drive him to Rhode Island when he was arrested Monday afternoon, Dec. 19. He also allegedly used the credit card to withdraw $300 from an ATM and to make several purchases at the Walmart in Rutland.
Czarnecki was found Sunday in Rutland and was charged with violating the terms of his probation after police said he removed a GPS tracking device from his ankle.
Bailey pleaded not guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter. Testa was charged on eight counts including involuntary manslaughter, assault and robbery.
Police say the .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun used in the shooting was stolen from an apartment in Fair Haven on the morning of Nov. 28. The owner, Ryan Lowell, told police that around 5 a.m., Testa and another man broke into his apartment. Testa told police that Hein was involved in the robbery. Lowell was badly beaten with a crowbar and the wooden handle of a hammer. Police say Testa and the other man stole a safe from Lowell’s apartment—and the gun, which Lowell was holding when the two men entered.
The police affidavit describes the events on the night of the shooting: The four men had been driving around in Bailey’s car drinking and smoking marijuana. At one point Testa and Hein were dropped off at a farmstand to steal money to buy more alcohol. During that time Bailey and Czarnecki were pulled over by Sgt. Dale Kerber of the Fair Haven P.D. After the traffic stop they picked up Testa and Hein at a gas station in Poultney. The shooting occurred sometime after that. Kerber declined to comment for this story. Capt. JP Sinclair of the Vermont State Police said he believed Bailey and Czarnecki were pulled over for a minor traffic violation.
Bailey, who lives in Granville, N.Y., is being held on $50,000 bail. Testa, from Poultney, was given a $100,000 bail. A status conference for both is scheduled for Jan. 23.