‘I didn’t do anything wrong,’ testifies Fitzgerald

Posted by 69News:.

Testifying in his own defense Friday morning, Christopher Fitzgerald said he absolutely did not point his pistol at anyone when arrested in August.

“I didn’t point a gun,” said Fitzgerald. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Fitzgerald, the 23-year-old son of Allentown Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, was the only witness called to the stand in Lehigh County Court before the defense rested before noon.

Closing arguments in the case will be heard at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

During his testimony Fitzgerald was calm, looked at jurors and answered questions with “yes sir” or “no sir.”

His parents and pregnant fiancee were in court to hear him testify.

Fitzgerald is facing charges in connection with a road rage incident in August, when he allegedly pulled a gun on two undercover detective as they tried to pass his vehicle, according to prosecutors.

Fitzgerald’s girlfriend and one-year-old child were in the car at the time.

The defendant testified he was driving his girlfriend to work at Olive Garden when he noticed a gray car pull up behind him. He claimed it began to tailgate him.

He said he tapped his brakes three times and even waved the driver  to pass him before pulling over to the right shoulder on MacArthur Road and stopping his car.

He rejected a suggestion from the prosecution that tapping his brakes could have put his family in danger if he had been rear-ended. And he said doing so would “not necessarily” anger the driver following him.

Fitzgerald said he became “fearful” when the gray car stopped in the left lane, so “as a safety measure” he grabbed his gun, which was underneath his seat.

When he saw the passenger side door open and a leg come out of that car, Fitzgerald said he opened his car door.

He acknowledged that he chose to pull out his gun.

“I wanted him to see the gun so that he would back off,” he testified.

 He heard someone curse and say “he has a gun” and the person got back into the car and closed the door.

Asked if he pointed the gun at anyone, Fitzgerald replied:  “Absolutely not.” 

Detrctive Todd Frey previously testified that Fitzgerald pointed the gun at him.

Fitzgerald said he then took off.

He told the court he couldn’t get his phone unlocked to make any calls. His girlfriend called his mother. He tried to get in touch with his father but never actually  spoke to him. Neither called 911 for help.

 He pulled into Lehigh Valley Mall parking lot because he still was being followed by the other car and said he did not want the people in it to know where his girlfriend  worked.

When it pulled in behind him, he claims it  blocked the exit, so he turned his car around to face it.

When he heard police sirens he said: “I felt safe.”

When Fitzgerald got out of his car, the gun was in a holster on his belt.

He testified he did not have the gun in his hand when he got out of his car and that he  chose not to reach for it even after they told him to “drop the gun” because ” I just know better…I would’ve been shot.”

Fitzgerald said there was a lot of yelling and the commands they were shouting  were confusing.

Prosecutors pressed him on whether he turned his body to show his gun when he stopped his car. He maintained  he never turned his body,  another claim Det. Frey disputes.

Fitzgerald said he crouched next to his car, even after uniformed police arrived, because the two men without uniforms were pointing their guns at him.

 Prosecutor said he chose not to call 911 and chose not to drive to a police station  for help. Fitzgerald said he had only been living here for five months and didn’t know where all the police departments are located.

During an interview with police after his arrest, Fitzgerald had said the incident would not have happened if he had known police were behind him.

“So it’s not okay to do it to police but it’s ok to do it to Joe Schmo?” asked a prosecutor. 

“I didn’t point a gun,” responded Fitzgerald. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Atty. Jack McMahon, Fitzgerald’s lawyer, blew up at Judge Kelly Banach after she denied his request for the jury to consider whether Fitzgerald was justified in pulling out his gun.

“You’re not being fair to this young man,” maintained  McMahon.

Fitzgerald, his mother and girlfriend began crying.

“The reason your client is crying is because you’re carrying on like a lunatic,” said  the judge.

After his exchange with the judge, in reference to the trial, McMahon said: “It’s a terrible miscarriage of justice.”

Fitzgerald testified he’s had his gun, a 9mm Glock, since his 21st birthday.

He said in Texas, where he moved from five months before the incident, people are allowed to own and carry guns when they are 21.

DA: No charges against driver who struck girls in Emmaus

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No charges will be filed against the driver of a car that struck and killed one girl and injured another in Lehigh County earlier this month, District Attorney Jim Martin announced Friday.

The investigation, which included a review of surveillance video and interviews with nine witnesses, revealed that the girls, Abigail Zukowski and Mya Walrath, were engaged in conversation and either walked out or ran into the intersection of Sixth and Chestnut streets in Emmaus on the afternoon of May 18, Martin said.

The girls were then struck by a car driven by an 82-year-old man from Coopersburg, Lehigh County, who was traveling between 30 and 35 mph in a 35 mph zone, officials said. His wife was a passenger in the car.

Zukowski, 11, died of her injuries; Walrath, 10, was seriously injured, but she has since been released from the hospital.

Walrath’s mother had left her home a short time after the girls and was approximately 100 feet away from them when they were struck, officials said.

The investigation, Martin said, also revealed that the driver had no evidence of either alcohol or drugs in his system, nor was the couple’s cell phone being used at the time of the accident.

“The result of the investigation, including the accident reconstruction, shows that [the driver] was traveling within the speed limit; had a green traffic light as he was approaching the intersection and the impact point; the light remained green immediately following impact; and, given the speed of the [driver’s] vehicle and the point of impact, the perception/reaction time was such that [the driver] could not have avoided this tragic accident,” Martin said in a news release.

A state police inspection of the striking car also revealed no mechanical problems that would have contributed to the accident, Martin said.

“Both the Emmaus Police Department and the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office extend our deepest sympathy to the family of Abigail Zukowski and our best wishes for a full recovery to Mya Walrath,” Martin stated in the release.

SWB RailRiders 7-0 win over Norfolk on Friday night at PNC Field

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Bryan Mitchell pitched 8 solid innings of two hit baseball as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders defeated the Norfolk Tide 7-0 on Friday night at PNC Field. Rob Segedin got the offense going in the bottom of the 4th win a hot-shot off the pitcher’s mound-a ball that bounced off the 2nd baseman resulting in a throwing […]

Lackawanna County Comes to Agreement with Workers

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SCRANTON — Lackawanna County released the terms of an agreement that ended a strike by the county workers who handle child abuse cases. The unionized employees at the Office of Youth and Family hit the picket lines earlier this month. At a news conference Friday, the county commissioners say the new contract agreement calls for […]

Talkback 16: Letter to the Editor Gets Callers Talking

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In Friday’s Talkback 16 there was a push for public dress codes, and someone thought Newswatch 16 showed too many commercials. However, the topic that got the most calls was a letter to the editor that was published in the Daily Item newspaper that appeared to threaten President Obama. Several callers also asked about former […]

Lehigh County Coroner’s Office searching for man’s next of kin

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The Lehigh County Coroner’s office is asking for the public’s help in finding a man’s next of kin. 

Kelvin Bouknight, 50 of Allentown died Monday due to natural causes. 

Anyone with information on Bouknight’s family is asked to call the coroner’s office at (610) 782 3426.

Luzerne County Sees Casino Money Put To Use

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Millions of dollars in gaming money is going toward repair and cleanup projects in our area. Some projects are almost finished but others haven’t yet broken ground. Newswtach 16 found construction crews drilling away at the Pittston Memorial Library off Broad Street. They’re building a new community room, a reading room for kids and even […]

Fatal pedestrian accident in Readington Township

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The Readington Township Police Department and Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s office are investigating a fatal accident that occurred Friday morning in Readington Township.

According to officials a pedestrian was crossing the westbound lanes of Route 22 and was struck by a vehicle traveling west. The victim was later pronounced dead at the Hunterdon Medical Center.

No charges have been filed at this time.

If anyone has any information regarding the investigation, please contact the Readington Township Police Department at (908) 735-2665 or the Major Crimes Unit of the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s office at (908) 788-1129 

Male student charged with raping female student inside Dieruff High School

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Rape charges have been filed against a student in an assault that allegedly took place inside Dieruff High School in Allentown earlier this month.

Both the alleged attacker and the victim are juveniles, according to police.

The school district’s solicitor, John Freund, told 69 News that school officials first learned of the alleged incident from police on Wednesday.

Freund said the information the district has is that the incident happened on the lower level of the school on May 18.

The district is cooperating with the police investigation and reviewing its safety procedures, Freund said.

Newest addition to Lehigh Valley Zoo ready to make its debut

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The newest addition to the Lehigh Valley Zoo is ready to make its debut.

Over the weekend a baby bison was born on the Trexler Game Preserve.

Zoo officials said they weren’t even sure the mother was pregnant so the birth was a bit of a surprise. They said the baby bison seems to be doing well but there’s a lot they still don’t know about the calf.

“We haven’t gotten our hands on it to check it yet, the mother is taking care of it. We’ve seen it nursing, so if we don’t have to intervene, we’re not going to. We don’t want to break the bonding between the mom and the baby,” Michelle Reagen with the zoo said.

Zoo officials aren’t sure if the baby is a boy or a girl or how much it weighs but they said it appears to be healthy