Business partner of victim in gold store triple murder testifies
It was a long day for Steven Cook’s former business partner, Michael DuPree’, who sat on the stand offering testimony of what happened when a
happened at their gold shop in 2017.
As of now, Anthony Pisano is charged with murdering all three people who died at Bullion Brother’s that day. The defense is trying to pin the murder of Steven Cook on DuPree’, and claims Daniel McCreadie and Kenneth Hartman were shot by Pisano in self-defense.
The State held the floor for much of DuPree’s questioning on Thursday. They went over how DuPree’ and Cook became partners after meeting each other and becoming good friends at another job.
DuPree’ talked about how the two quickly realized based on the kind of business they were starting, they would need some sort of security at the store. At first Dupree asked an officer with Anchorage Police how they could help. The officer recommended he reach out to Pisano.
“I was like, ‘wow, this guy is legit,’ APD introduced me to him and he’s got this government card and he’s got this security business,” he said.
The government card was from Pisano’s time in the military. The security business was Pisano’s H&G Tactical, a store that offered marksman training and custom-made firearms.
The State has brought up that Pisano was in bad financial situations in court before, including his business. DuPree’ said it wasn’t long before he was asking the store owners for money.
“We didn’t know what we needed and we figured he was the expert so we were like, ‘right on man, well we have money and you need it and we’ll eventually need to make our security system better,” DuPree’ said.
DuPree’ and the prosecuting attorney went over several checks made out to Pisano from the store for thousands of dollars. It was established they did business the old-fashioned way. One of the exhibits was a hand-written note with Pisano’s $2,700 debt to the owners.
Despite all that, DuPree’ said he and Cook were friends with Pisano.
Given the nature of the business; like negotiating over prices; operating a business with a lot of cash and precious metals; and feeling the need to carry a gun on his person at all time; DuPree’ expressed his desire to get out of the business.
The Defense has argued it was not a pretty separation between DuPree’ and Cook. On day one of the trial, they made an argument that tension boiled over, causing DuPree’ to shoot Cook.
DuPree’ explained Thursday it was a peaceful separation. Albeit complicated, and Cook didn’t want him to leave.
“Ultimately, it was pretty brief but he was my friend,” DuPree’ said, “and he said, ‘if that’s what you want to do we’ll figure it out.’”
DuPree’ said they decided that he would cut back on hours and eventually leave the store to Cook with DuPree’s share being bought out.
Part of the testimony included schedule logs kept by DuPree’ and Cook on a work phone. The Defense initially brought one particular entry up that said, “Michael doesn’t owe a damn day!”
The State brought forth more entries where the two made jokes like the other owed ‘his soul and a drink.’ While going through them, Dupree couldn’t help but laugh.
“This is the perfect example of our relationship,” he said.
After establishing DuPree’s relationship with Cook and Pisano, they got into the details of the day of the shooting.
DuPree’ said Pisano was acting ‘odd’ that day. He said he was asking obvious questions about gold, and to see the gun that Pisano bought for him. He was apparently checking a modification made to the grip.
“He had my gun and I was like, ‘okay I want it back now,’” he said, “I vividly remember it because it was the first time I ever, like, didn’t trust him.”
Shortly after, he recalled Pisano helping set out the inventory for the day. He said it wasn’t a regular thing Pisano did, but wasn’t out of the ordinary.
The State showed security video of Pisano peaking where the cash-on-hand was kept. Shortly after the security system was shut off.
From there DuPree’ described Pisano slamming him on a table and turning on Cook. DuPree’ said Pisano got his gun out and pointed it at Cook.
DuPree’ said he thought Pisano was having a military PTSD flashback and wasn’t in his right mind. He said he tried to get Pisano off Cook then Pisano shot Cook. Soon after DuPree’ testified Pisano tried to point the gun at him.
He said there was a struggle, but eventually he managed to take Pisano’s gun and run to a nearby trailer-park. He apparently saw Kenny Hartman on the way out, but didn’t say anything.
DuPree’ explained he kept running and called the police while he was leaving.
The Defense only got about 30 minutes of questioning in before the court had to recess.
They asked him to clarify parts of his testimony, and questioned parts of its integrity. They dialed in on the fact that DuPree’ hadn’t been working in the store as much at the time, and didn’t know how Cook and Pisano’s relationship had changed as far as what Cook trusted him with.
At one point, DuPree’ said Pisano did carry a large amount of silver to their smelter on their behalf. He said it was valued between $40,000 and $80,000.
On the testimony of the shooting, the Defense questioned if Pisano really tried to shoot DuPree'. DuPree' said he wasn’t entirely sure.
DuPree’ said after everything happened he reached out to Pisano’s wife, explaining he felt sorry for Pisano and offered support. He expressed disappointment that Pisano is now pointing the finger at him.
The Defense continues their cross-examination on Tuesday.
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