Murder trial begins for Centre Co. man

Local News

Bellefonte, Pa- The trial for a Centre County man facing murder charges began Tuesday.

Police say the now 37-year-old Ardell Gross shot and killed his uncle, Richard Smalley at a home on Whitman Avenue in Pleasant Gap, more than a year ago.

Tuesday, a trial-by-jury began for Gross who faces charges of first degree murder, third degree murder, and aggravated assault.

Inside the courtroom, Gross sat quietly as both the prosecution and defense gave a synopsis of their arguments in the case.

The prosecution, in their opening statement, claimed that Gross was arguing with Smalley over ownership of the Pleasant Gap home. They say Smalley then stepped outside to talk to his daughter on the phone and then walked back inside. At that moment, the prosecution alleges Gross ran to retrieve his 357-magnum handgun and shot Smalley, at first by surprise.

The prosecution claims that immediately after the first shot through Smalley’s left side, a second shot hit Smalley’s head.

They say the ballistics indicate the two were one-to-four feet away from each other when the shots were fired.

The defense argues that Smalley wasn’t shot by surprise but was instead grabbing at Gross, and threatened to kill him, so Gross shot and killed Smalley in self-defense.

WTAJ will update this story as the trial continues.

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