Gratton murder case continues

Ethan Gratton returned to Franklin County Superior Court on Tuesday morning, while the man who survived the January shooting for which Gratton now faces felony murder charges sat on a bench nearby.

The 27-year-old Georgia man is charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting David Hill, 57, and with attempted second-degree murder for shooting Mark Brito, then 27.

Brito appeared in court Tuesday for the first time, the upper left part of his head stapled in a circle, a relic of the near-fatal bullet wounds he sustained in the Jan. 2 shooting.

Then, police say Gratton shot Brito in the face; a medical examination showed a bullet entered Brito’s right eye and traveled toward the center of his head without exiting, documents state.

Hill was deceased upon troopers’ arrival, court records say, with multiple gunshot wounds to the head and torso.

Gratton’s defense team has argued the lifelong Georgia resident and college graduate with no criminal history reacted in self-defense following a physical altercation with the two men outside his home.

On Tuesday, Gratton’s parents sat on the bench behind his defense team, public defenders Steve Dunham and Rosie Chase.

Hill and Brito’s family members filled the opposite half of the courtroom.

Gratton’s court appearance was a simple status conference, a chance for the case’s defense and prosecution to inform the judge, Martin A. Maley, of its progress.

Until now, the case had been heard by Judge A. Gregory Rainville.

Maley conferred with the attorneys before setting a Feb. 1 motion deadline. He also scheduled a status conference to follow soon thereafter, in mid-February, at which the court will “determine what the remaining issues are.”

The court will set a date for a pre-trial conference and jury selection after that.

Gratton faces up to life in prison if convicted of either charge.