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Prosecutors in Latanowich Trial Rest Their Case, Defense Will Call Witnesses Monday

barnstable court.jpeg
Barnstable County Superior Court

A week of testimony wrapped up Thursday in the case of the man accused of killing Yarmouth Police Sgt. Sean Gannon in 2018.

Thomas Latanowich is facing murder charges in the shooting of Sgt. Sean Gannon. Gannon was shot as he tried to arrest Latanowich for a probation violation in the attic of a home in Marstons Mills. A police dog, Nero, was also shot during the incident. The dog survived.

On Thursday, prosecutors rested their case, leaving the defense to call witnesses.

Barnstable Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke said one of the defense’s witnesses was not available on Friday, so the court would reconvene on Monday, August 16, instead. The defense is expected to call two or three witnesses and that testimony is likely to be done by the afternoon the same day, well ahead of schedule.

The trial was supposed to take weeks, but Locke said it was going quickly because the attorneys have been cooperative and the witnesses had been available when needed.

Prosecutors called about 20 witnesses over the course of the week, including police officers who were on the scene and forensic experts who collected and analyzed the evidence. The evidence ranged from pieces of a dismantled handgun to video recordings extracted from a smashed cell phone to a blood-stained roll of cash.

Latanowich’s defense attorney, Joseph Krowski, did not seem to dispute the basic facts of the case in his opening statements. But he said that his client’s car had been “shot up” two weeks before Gannon was killed and Latanowich feared for his life. Krowski also argued that Yarmouth police should have called in SWAT when they realized that Latanowich was refusing to come out, rather than pursue him.

The defendant’s former girlfriend was a key witness for the prosecution.

Twenty-eight-year-old Krystal Bearse testified she was in a relationship with Latanowich for four years. They have a daughter together, who is now 5 years old. Bearse was speaking under a grant of immunity, meaning that she won’t be prosecuted for the things she says in court as long as she tells the truth.

Bearse and Lanaowich sent 105 text messages to each other on the day of the killing and shared 28 minutes of phone calls over 13 different calls. All of the communication happened while Latanowich was hiding in the house in Marstons Mills, prosecutors said.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Trudeau asked Bearse to read from a transcript of the text messages.

“I think this is it,” Latanowich wrote to Bearse at 2:14 PM. “They got surrounded.” And, “I’m shooting it out.”

Gannon was shot around 3:30 PM.

Police retreated from the house and called for reinforcements. Latanowich surrendered to police more than an hour later. The phone conversations between Latanowich and Bearse happened after Gannon was shot but before Latanowich surrendered.

Krowski asked Bearse whether Latanowich told her on the phone that he didn’t know he was shooting at a police officer. She responded, “I can’t be sure.”

Kroswki asked, “He certainly didn’t say he knew it was a police officer when he was shooting at him.”

Bearse responded, “We didn’t talk about specifics.”

Krowski questioned Yarmouth police officer Sean Geary, who was standing next to Gannon when he was shot, implying that Yarmouth police should have called for help from specially trained forces to arrest Latanowich.

“No calls to SWAT?” Krowski asked Geary.

Geary responded, “Again, no calls while the search was going on.”

The court could hear closing arguments as soon as Tuesday morning, Judge Locke said. Jury deliberations would begin immediately after.

"Likely the case will be in your hands on Tuesday," Locke told the jury.

The public can view the court proceedings via Zoom. The meeting code is 160 5830 7364.

“Elsa Partan is a producer and newscaster with CAI. She first came to the station in 2002 as an intern and fell in love with radio. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. From 2006 to 2009, she covered the state of Wyoming for the NPR member station Wyoming Public Media in Laramie. She was a newspaper reporter at The Mashpee Enterprise from 2010 to 2013. She lives in Falmouth with her husband and two daughters.