Charges Against Stidd Dismissed
Stidd was charged after shooting his son-in-law Mel Bizzarro on January 16 in the parking lot behind Togi’s Family Restaurant on East Main Street.
The homicide charge – along with charges of involuntary manslaughter and voluntary manslaughter that were added this morning – were dismissed following a hearing in front of District Judge Dominic Cercone.
Stidd’s attorney Greg Henry made a motion after district attorney Ray Learn presented the state’s case, saying that Learn did not prove Stidd did not act in self-defense.
In fact, Henry argued, two of the state’s witnesses made Stidd’s case for self-defense.
In an emotionally wrenching 9-1-1 call played by Learn, Stidd’s wife Barbara can be heard telling the 9-11 operator, “(Bizzarro) attacked my husband” and her husband shot him.
Kevin Rhebergen, a truck driver who was delivering food to Togi’s that morning, said he had seen Stidd and Bizzarro arguing and, although he didn’t see Bizzarro hit Stidd, he did see Stidd’s head and shoulders go back as if there had been some kind of impact. He added that Stidd was trying to catch his balance and stepping away while Bizzarro was following him.
He also testified that it looked to him as if Stidd was trying to get away from Bizzarro and into the restaurant but Bizzarro was blocking his path.
Rhebergen also said when he went up to Stidd after the shooting he had a gash on his forehead and was wiping away blood that was running down his face.
He also said Stidd was looking down on Bizzarro, shaking his head and saying, “I warned him. I told him (I had a gun). He wouldn’t back off.”
During his cross examination of Rhebergen Henry tried to ask about the fact that back in 2005 Bizzarro spent time in jail for threatening and assaulting Stidd, who was seriously injured and required medical treatment. But Learn objected and Cercone sustained that objection because it was beyond the scope of the direct examination.
As for the bullet that had the letters “M-E-L” carved into it, Henry argued that the prosecution did not prove when it was carved – that day or 10 years ago – or even if Stidd is the person who did it.
Henry also said, despite the bullet, there was no proof Stidd intended to kill Bizzarro that morning.
Learn argued that Stidd “had a clear path to retreat” by going to his car, and he didn’t necessarily have to go to the restaurant as Rhebergen said it appeared he was trying to do.
Henry countered that because Bizzarro was younger, bigger and faster than Stidd, “he wouldn’t have made it 5 feet, let alone 54 feet” to his car.
That argument is “preposterous,” Henry said.
Before announcing his ruling, Cercone said this was a “tough case.”
After announcing that he was dismissing the charges, supporters of both Stidd and Bizzarro reacted, to which Cercone said, “This is an ugly case. There are no winners.”
Henry told WESB Stidd would have to be taken back to the jail, but would likely be released later today.