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Pennsylvania Man Fatally Shot By Neighbor After Bitter Feud Involving Dogs and Jet Skis

“I was in absolute terror," Spencer Newcomer told his defense attorney of the moments before fatally shooting neighbor David Wintermyer. "At that point I pulled the trigger.”

By Joe Dziemianowicz

On June 10, 2012, Spencer "Lee" Newcomer called 911 to report that he shot his York County, Pennsylvania neighbor.

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At the scene, first responders tended to the victim, David Wintermyer, 47, who’d been shot several times.

“They determined that he had already expired,” law enforcement expert Joe Blaettler told Kill or Be Killed, airing Saturdays at 9/8c p.m. on Oxygen.

Four shell casings and a black cell phone near the victim’s body were collected as evidence. Newcomer’s firearm was recovered from his truck.

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Spencer Newcomer claims self-defense

Newcomer told police that he’d fired in self-defense but refused to elaborate. “They processed him and arrested him,” said legal analyst Brian Zeiger.

Newcomer had left home that morning to attend a car show. “A couple minutes later, I heard three or four gunshots,” said his girlfriend, Bonnie Henderson.

She added, “I said, 'What happened?' And he says, ‘Bonnie, I had to do it.’ He had no choice. Dave was coming after him.”

People at the scene gave a different account. “All the witnesses did say that Spencer was the aggressor,” said York Daily Record columnist Mike Argento.

David Wintermyer featured on IKill Or Be Killed Episode 105

Through witness statements, police learned that Wintermyer was a retired U.S. Marine who had served for two decades. He had a reputation for being well-liked with his neighbors.

Newcomer, then 42, who worked in the insurance industry, had lived there for many years. He lived with Henderson in a home that had belonged to his grandfather.

Spencer Newcomer describes deadly encounter with David Wintermyer

At the police station, officials learned that Newcomer had a permit to carry a concealed weapon in public, according to Kill or Be Killed.

Newcomer detailed the deadly encounter in a taped conversation with his attorney, Christopher Ferro. “I carry my firearm with me everywhere,” Newcomer said.

Newcomer added in this recorded conversation that he spoke briefly with his neighbor Craig Becker. Then, he said, Wintermyer arrived and started screaming about Newcomer’s dogs.

“He pointed his finger at me and said that he was going to... kill me,” said Newcomer, who added that he grabbed his pistol from his truck, and pointed it at Wintermyer to halt his advance.

Newcomer maintained that Wintermyer had reached into his pocket, the York Daily Record reported.

“He began pulling something black out that to me looked like a gun,” Newcomer said in the taped interview. “I was in absolute terror. At that point I pulled the trigger.”

Spencer Newcomer and David Wintermyer had been feuding

Becker told police that he was aware of “bad blood” between Newcomer and Wintermyer, according to Kill or Be Killed.

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In Newcomer’s recorded account with his lawyer, he described how his once-cordial relationship with Wintermyer deteriorated in 2012 into a months-long feud.  

“Slowly, his interactions with me were becoming more aggressive,” Newcomer told his attorney. He was convinced Wintermyer vandalized his property and said he was concerned about his girlfriend Henderson and their dogs.

“Spencer had asked the police many times to help him find a solution,” said his sister Julie Moser. “Unfortunately, they were not of any help.”

Ferro was aware that mounting a persuasive self-defense case would be “an uphill battle,” he said, noting, “Dave Wintermyer was not armed at the time of the shooting.”

Spencer Newcomer featured on IKill Or Be Killed Episode 105

Spencer Newcomer charged with murder

Newcomer was charged with first-degree murder. He faced the possibility of life without parole or even the death penalty, said Ferro.

“The prosecution believed that because of the feud, Spencer had shot David,” said Argento. “Spencer was the aggressor.”

The prosecution’s strength was that Newcomer was in a truck. “He could have removed himself from the whole situation,” said Zeiger.

The defense team needed to overcome the fact that Newcomer fatally shot an unarmed man. They needed to show that Newcomer “believed that his life was in danger,” said Ferro. “He had one choice only to save his life.”

In a self-defense case, what a person reasonably believes is key, even if it’s mistaken, according to legal analyst John Moore.

“If Spencer reasonably believed that it was a gun [Wintermyer had reached for], then he was justified in using the self-defense force that he did," Moore told Kill or Be Killed.

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To build his defense, Ferro created vivid portraits of the shooter and the victim. He took pictures of signs Wintermyer had posted in his yard that he believed revealed the victim’s character.  

They read: “This home is protected by the United States Marine” and “Trespassers will be shot and survivors will be shot again.”

The defense subpoenaed Wintermyer’s social media profiles' content and found a significant event in the months before the shooting.

“Dave had jet skis in his driveway, which is against regulations,” said Henderson. “Somebody had called and reported the jet skis.”

Wintermyer was fined. He was convinced Newcomer had made the call. “But Spencer didn’t call anybody,” said Moser.

“I believe that was a triggering moment and Mr. Wintermyer, from that moment on, just really despised Spencer Newcomer,” said Ferro.

Days after the fatal shooting, the autopsy report confirmed that Wintermyer died of gunshot wounds. Three bullets entered the front of his body. One entered his back, which cast doubt on the self-defense claim.

David Wintermyer’s texts emerge as evidence

From Wintermeyer’s social media content, it was discovered that more than 280 text messages between Wintermyer and Becker were exchanged in the five days prior to the shooting that focused on Newcomer. In the texts, they called Newcomer “weak” and “spineless," Ferro told Kill or Be Killed.

The texts suggested that Wintermyer was the one who was looking to start a confrontation. That supported Newcomer’s claim that the victim threatened him, according to Moore.

Newcomer’s trial began on March 11, 2013. The prosecution’s opening statements portrayed Newcomer as a killer who’d come looking for a confrontation.

“The prosecution tried to make their case that this was not self-defense,” said Moore. When the prosecution called Becker to the stand, it was to help them make that case.

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The defense projected some of the texts between Becker and Wintermyer in the courtroom. Ferro emphasized in court that the victim had been the aggressor, presenting the texts as proof.

In addition, a forensic expert told the court that the bullet that entered Wintermyer's back may have done so as he moved away during the three other gunshots.

Spencer Newcomer found not guilty

After emotional testimony by Newcomer and a tough cross-examination, both sides presented closing arguments.

The defense used a video recreating the moment when Wintermyer reached into his pocket — to try to put the jury in the defendant’s shoes. The prosecution downplayed the relevance of that video.

On March 15, 2013, the jury deliberated for five hours, reported Trib Total Media. They returned with a verdict of not guilty, believing that Newcomer acted in self-defense.

“I felt no sense of victory,” Newcomer told Kill or Be Killed. “I survived it. There were no winners in this case.”

To find out where Newcomer is today and more about the case, featured in the “Suburban Showdown” episode, watch Kill or Be Killed, airing Saturdays at 9/8c p.m. on Oxygen.