JOHNSTOWN - Opening statements are expected today in the murder trial of a man accused in July of killing his mother in her Ephratah home.
James F. Dibble, 29, was arraigned on charges of second-degree murder and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, all felonies; and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a misdemeanor.
The trial was scheduled to begin this morning in the Fulton County Courthouse with preliminary instruction from Fulton County Judge Polly A. Hoye, followed by opening statements from both parties and witnesses called by Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira.
James Dibble, in handcuffs, is escorted through the back entrance at the Fulton County Courthouse in Johnstown this morning by two Fulton County sheriff’s office personnel.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Police arrested Dibble July 2 in the death of Gwenda L. Lisman, 58, who was found July 1 at 11:19 a.m. by a neighbor at Lisman's home at 227 Mud Road, authorities said.
Authorities said Dibble shot his mother in the head with a rifle she borrowed from a neighbor to deal with a rodent problem in her garden.
If convicted of second-degree murder, Dibble could face 25 years to life in prison, Sira said.
Court officials said they expect the trial to last about two weeks given the amount of testimony from witnesses and evidence connected to the crime.
The court Monday chose a jury of seven men and eight women; 12 will serve as jurors, while three will be alternates.
On Monday, Sira and Dibble's attorney, Robert Abdella, questioned the pool of potential jurors about their relationships that could conflict with the case, their ability to handle the pressure to pass a verdict and their thoughts on images or testimony that may be presented during the trial.
Abdella took it further during his questions by asking the perspective jurors if they would hold anything against Dibble or have judgments against his client if he decided not to take the stand.
Abdella also advised the potential jurors Dibble is under strict direction by him not to react or display emotion to any evidence that may be presented during the case. He said when Dibble doesn't react it shouldn't be associated with any presumption of guilt.
Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey previously said Dibble and his mother may have been arguing over money and had a "tumultuous relationship."
Sira previously said Dibble killed his mother for financial and material gain. Sira said Dibble used a .22-caliber rifle to shoot his mother.
The criminal-possession charges stem from Dibble being in possession of stolen property consisting of jewelry belonging to Lisman and NASCAR collectibles belonging to Jeffrey Snell, according to the district attorney's office. Dibble is accused of pawning the items for his own benefit, according to the district attorney's office. According to the indictment, each of the items exceeded $1,000 in value.