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Cold case unit makes arrest in 2006 Norwich case

By Izaskun E. Larrañeta

Publication: TheDay.com

Published August 06. 2010 10:26AM   Updated August 06. 2010 2:53PM

Two men have been charged today in connection with the June 2006 murder of 19-year-old Sean Hill of Norwich.

Bruce Gathers, 30, is charged with felony murder, murder and criminal use of a firearm. He is currently serving time in a New Jersey prison in an unrelated case.

Gregory Smith, 28, is charged with felony murder. He is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence in connection with a robbery that happened prior to Hill's murder.

The arrests were the result of an investigation conducted by Norwich Police and the Southeastern Connecticut Cold Case Unit.

According to police, Justin Smith, 29, of 139 Boswell Ave., left Hill and a woman waiting in a driveway on June 2, 2006, while he walked to a nearby apartment building to transact a drug deal.

While Justin Smith was in the building, Gathers and Gregory Smith allegedly robbed and pistol-whipped him and chased him out of the building.

Just minutes after midnight on June 3, a witness told police, there was the sound of a gunshot, and police arrived on the scene to find Hill lying in the driveway with a gunshot wound in his side.

In November 2006 Gathers was arrested for his role in the robbery in New Jersey, where police said he had assumed a new identity and had been arrested in connection with a burglary. When New Jersey police fingerprinted him, they discovered his true identity. He was sentenced to four years in prison in 2008 for his role in the Norwich robbery.

Both men will be arraigned at Norwich Superior Court at a yet to be determined date. Gathers' bond has been set at $1.5 million while Smith's bond hs been set at $1 million.

The warrants in the case are sealed.

Since its inception in October 2009, the Southeastern Connecticut Cold Case Unit has made two other arrests in cases dating back to 1993 and 1997.

In May, the unit charged Irene Reynolds with fatally beating and strangling her mother. Bertha Reynolds' body was found at her home at 84 Laurel Hill Ave., Norwich, on July 19, 1993.

One month later, the unit charged 40-year-old Dickie Anderson Jr. with killing Renee Pellegrino on June 25, 1997. Pellegrino's body was discovered in a cul-de-sac off Waterford Parkway South.

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