Editor’s Note: Some accounts of what happened and some language cited in this report may not be suitable for all age groups. Please use your own discretion.
ST. ALBANS: Police say that Ethan Gratton, a 26-year-old Georgia resident intended to kill two men Monday when he pulled a gun and began shooting.
According to court documents, Gratton gunned down Mark Brito, 27, and David Hill, 57, both of Fairfax. Hill died as a result of the shooting, while Brito remains in the hospital fighting for his life.
The defense said in court on Tuesday that Gratton was acting in self-defense during his arraignment.
According to court files, the deadly encounter began over a dispute with Gratton, Hill and Brito when Hill and Brito used the driveway belonging to Gratton to turn their vehicle around.
According to the court file, one of the men in the truck punched Gratton, after Gratton complained about them using the driveway as a turnaround.
“It appears that the physical evidence confirms that (the three people) were in close proximity (to each other) during the time of the shooting,” defense attorney Steve Dunham argued.
Dunham also cited Gratton’s lifelong residency to the area and his college degree with no previous criminal record as being a factor in asking for bail in the case.
“The State does dispute this being a self-defense case,” said State’s Attorney Jim Hughes, “the defendant was in a physical altercation, but that was over and done with. It is alleged that Mr. Gratton walked up his driveway, either to his home or to his vehicle to retrieve the firearm, and then back down to the end of the driveway where he shot them.”
The defense argued that there were two times that the people encountered each other. According to Steve Dunham, Gratton had the weapon the entire time and only used it after the altercation began.
According to the charging affidavit, Gratton said loudly in the background during the 911 call that he had shot Hill and Brito.
“Did you shoot them?” Gratton’s mother, Pamela asked while on 911.
“I f***ing shot them.” Gratton replied.
“Both of them,” asked Ms. Gratton.
“Yes, the mother f***er Dan Hill, he punched me in the face.” Gratton said.
“Why?” Ms. Gratton asked.
“‘Cause I told him not to back up in the driveway. I got punched in the face. Said it was none of my business. The other mother f**ker came around and I f**king shot him too. I don’t care. I’ll shoot myself. I don’t give a f**k. I ain’t going to jail.” Gratton said.
Hughes said Hill, who died of his wounds, was shot five or six times, once in the shoulder, several times in the back, and once in the back of the head.
According to court files, Gratton was using a 40 caliber Smith and Wesson Shied in the shooting.
Brito was shot only once, according to Hughes, but that shot was in his eye socket where the bullet then entered the brain. No exit wound was seen on Brito, according to court files.
Brito is currently fighting for his life at UVM medical Center, Hughes said.
“We’re hoping that he makes a full recovery,” Hughes said, “we want to hear the other side of what happened.
Hughes said that police found footprints in the snow as well as blood droplets leading from the road to the vehicle where police believe Gratton retrieved his weapon. That blood trail then returned to the road.
The defense asked for bail in the amount of no more than $25,000, but Judge Gregory Rainville ultimately held Gratton without bail.
Gratton is being charged with attempted murder in the second degree as well as murder in the second degree. Each of those charges carry a 20 year to life sentence if found guilty.
An autopsy is scheduled to be conducted by the Chief Medical Examiner in Burlington in the next several days.
The scene, which includes part of Georgia Mountain Road, was closed overnight while Vermont State Troopers investigated the scene.