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Cops and Courts

Third man in murder-for-hire slaying could face death penalty

  • john-sullivan-jpg

    Judge Gary Bennett talks to John Sullivan during his video arraignment Friday. Sullivan could face the death penalty for his role in an alleged murder-for-hire plot.

    BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE

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ELYRIA – The third man police say was involved in a murder-for-hire plot that led to the slaying of Willie Fisher was arraigned Friday morning.

John Sullivan, 29, of East Cleveland, was arraigned by video in Elyria Municipal Court before Judge Gary Bennett. Sullivan has been charged with aggravated murder in connection to the killing of Fisher on July 6 near the Convenient Food Mart on East Avenue.

Police say Bruce Arnoff, 56, of Solon, paid Sullivan and Patrick Gall, 18, of East Cleveland, $500 to murder Fisher. Arnoff and Gall were arraigned on murder and aggravated murder, respectively, and their cases were bound over to the grand jury for consideration of indictment.

Arnoff was arrested in connection to the murder on July 7, and Gall was arrested the following week after a standoff at his East Cleveland home with U.S. Marshals. Police originally put out a warrant for the wrong man, after Gall had used the other man’s identity in a traffic stop in Brooklyn just hours after Fisher’s body was found.

Sullivan, however, was driving the car with Gall as a passenger during the traffic stop by Brooklyn police on Interstate 480 less than four hours after police found Fisher’s body. While Gall was released, Sullivan was held on an unrelated warrant out of Maple Heights; he was also charged with having weapons under disability.

A warrant was issued in Elyria Municipal Court for Sullivan’s arrest on July 10, but he was in custody in Cuyahoga County for the weapons charge stemming from the Brooklyn traffic stop. The case was finally resolved Wednesday when Sullivan pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to 12 months in prison.

Cuyahoga County Judge Carolyn Friedland ordered Sullivan to be transported to Lorain County to face the pending aggravated murder charge. He was booked into Lorain County Jail Thursday morning.

During the arraignment in Elyria on Friday, Bennett said Sullivan could face the death penalty or life in prison if found guilty of the aggravated murder charge.

Last month, during Arnoff’s arraignment, the prosecutor said the murder of Fisher was caught on video. On Friday, the prosecutor said Sullivan was believed to have pulled the trigger.

Bennett set Sullivan’s bond at $2.5 million. Arnoff and Gall are each being held on $2 million bond in Lorain County Jail.

A preliminary hearing for Sullivan’s case is scheduled for Monday before Bennett.

Contact Scott Mahoney at 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.


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