Prosecutors in Northampton County started presenting their case Monday in the capital murder trial of a man accused of killing a police officer.
George Hitcho Junior of Freemansburg is facing murder charges for the shooting death of a police officer last year.
Officer Robert Lasso responded to a domestic disturbance at the man’s home near Bethlehem. Soon after, police said, Hitcho fired a single shot at the officer, killing him instantly.
On Monday, family and friends of Lasso packed a Northampton County Courtroom to hear testimony in Hitcho’s trial.
Nearly ten witnesses testified for the prosecution.
One of those witnesses is the neighbor who got into a verbal dispute with Hitcho and called 911.
Hitcho’s friend of 25 years also took the stand. Robert Henninger testified he was with Hitcho right before the shooting and saw Officer Lasso arrive at Hitcho`s home in Freemansburg.
The man told the jury, “I saw him (Officer Robert Lasso) walk up to the gate and say, `George, please come out and talk to me.’”.
Freemansburg Police Chief George Bruneio then took the stand. He told the court he arrived on scene when Officer Lasso called for backup because Hitcho’s dogs were aggressive.
Chief Bruneio testified, “I yelled, `Shoot ‘em (the dogs).’ As I said that, a loud shot rang out and Officer Lasso went face down,” He continued, “I said, `Drop the weapon!’ Hitcho said `He (Officer Lasso) was trying to get in my house!’ I said, `Drop the weapon!’ He (Hitcho) said, `He tried breaking in my house!’ I said, `Drop the weapon now!’”
Chief Bruneio took Hitcho into custody and immediately went to Officer Lasso’s side. That’s when he realized his officer was dead.
Holding back tears, Chief Bruneio told the court, “I was dazed, in shock. Everything was a blur to me.”
Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said the trial could wrap up by the end of the week.
Hitcho could face the death penalty is he is convicted.