Newcomer
Newcomer

There's no question Spencer "Lee" Newcomer IV fatally shot next-door neighbor David Wintermyer in the middle of their Springettsbury Township street after an argument.

At issue is whether Newcomer killed Wintermyer because his anger toward the man had festered "like a cancer," as York County District Attorney Tom Kearney said, or whether he fired in self-defense, as defense attorney Chris Ferro maintains.

The attorneys gave their opening statements to jurors on Monday afternoon, the first day of trial.

Newcomer, 43, of 3812 Sylvan Drive, is charged with first- and third-degree murder for killing Wintermyer, 47.

"There was no love lost between these two men," Kearney told jurors.

Wintermyer and other neighbors were angry at Newcomer for allowing his property to become run down, and for allowing his dogs to defecate in Wintermyer's yard, Kearney said.

'Snapped': About 9:15 a.m. June 10, the two men argued, Kearney said.

"Spencer Newcomer had had enough and snapped," he told jurors. He shot Wintermyer four times at point-blank range with his 9mm handgun.

Wintermyer was hit three times in the chest and once in the back, according to Kearney.

But Ferro said Newcomer was "under attack" by Wintermyer and described the situation as explosive.

"This case is not about murder," Ferro told the jury. "This case is about rights, reactions and reasonableness. ... It's about the right to protect yourself and do it reasonably."

Victim dangerous? Ferro told jurors Newcomer believed Wintermyer mutilated a rabbit and posed it on Newcomer's property, and also believed Wintermyer tried to poison his dog, although Ferro conceded there's no proof.

"David Wintermyer had issues," Ferro said. "He was aggressive, he was volatile and, in my client's mind, he was dangerous. ... (Newcomer) was scared. And he had a right to be."

Ferro told jurors his client shot Wintermyer after the man reached into his pocket, causing Newcomer to fear Wintermyer had a gun.

"He had seconds to react -- less than seconds," the defense attorney said. "It's a tragedy ... but it's not a crime."

First witness: The first prosecution witness called for trial was neighbor Margaret Ginter, who testified Newcomer owned three dogs and allowed them to run loose.

"They would crap in (Wintermyer's) yard and he would have to clean it up," she said, prompting Kearney to ask about Newcomer's response to complaints about his dogs.

"He did what he wanted to do," Ginter said. "Nothing."

Ginter testified that shortly before the shooting, she heard the men fighting and went outside to investigate.

She saw Newcomer driving away.

"He put his head out the window, gave (Wintermyer) the finger and yelled profanity at him," Ginter told jurors. "(Newcomer said), 'I can do what the f-- I want to do. You can go to hell.'"

Returned: Newcomer drove to the intersection of Concord Road and stopped at the stop sign; meanwhile, Wintermyer was walking toward Newcomer's pickup, she said.

At that point, Newcomer backed up his truck in Wintermyer's direction, according to Ginter.

"He got out of the truck, gun in hand, and just killed Dave then and there. ... He just point-blank shot the man," she said. "Dave was just saying, 'Wait a minute, wait a minute.'"

Ginter said she had a clear view of Wintermyer and that he never reached in pockets.

'Chilling' call: Also on Monday, jurors heard recordings of several people who called 911 to report the shooting, including the defendant. Several of the callers sounded shaken up, but Newcomer's voice sounded calm.

Kearney described that apparent calmness as "chilling," but Ferro said his client was merely in shock.

Newcomer answered a 911 dispatcher's questions until she asked what led to the shooting.

"I don't want to get into that right now," Newcomer told her. "There are a bunch of people out here."

Trial is set to resume at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday.

-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at levans@yorkdispatch.com.