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Trial for 2019 Preston fatal shooting avoided with no contest plea

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) – A man about to go on trial for a 2019 fatal shooting in Preston has avoided trial by pleading nolo contendere and now will be sentenced in February on a manslaughter 1st degree with a firearm charge.

28 year old Francis Giannelli of Glastonbury was charged in connection to the shooting death of 35 year old Robert Thompson of Preston on October 26, 2019. As his trial was about to begin he entered the plea in which he does not accept or deny responsibility for the crime.

RELATED: Second man charged in deadly Preston drive-by shooting

According to court papers, a witness says he saw a pick up truck Thompson was riding in and a 2010 Mercedes Giannelli was riding in stopped at the light on the Mohegan Pequot Bridge, which is at the corner of Routes 12 and 2a.

He heard five to seven gunshots coming from one car to another and then later saw the Mercedes make a U-turn and speed by his car.

Police tracked down Giannelli who later turned himself into police.

Giannelli claims while at the Comix Roadhouse in Mohegan Sun he saw Thompson taking pictures of him with his cell phone. After exchanging words a couple of times, Giannelli said the victim and the man he was with both made a gun gesture with their fingers before driving off.

He says they met up again at the traffic light and when he saw the driver move his hand down from the steering wheel, Giannelli said he shot six times emptying his gun.. and he probably shouldn’t have shot him.

According to the Norwich Bulletin the plea is part of a plea deal in which he agreed to an 18-year prison sentence.

Giannelli is scheduled to be sentenced in New London Superior court on February 9, 2023.

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