James Dibble’s belongings were packed and loaded in the car on the morning of Sunday, June 30 — his mother was throwing him out.
Wendy Lisman’s relationship with her son had steadily deteriorated since he moved into her rural Mud Road home in Ephratah after his release from Fulton County Jail four months earlier. Against her wishes, he hadn’t found steady work and continued to use drugs.
Then in late June, Lisman’s gold jewelry went missing. She reported the items stolen, then confronted her son, touching off a weekend of bitter quarreling that ended with her telling him he had to leave.
“She felt very betrayed by [the theft],” Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira recounted Tuesday. “She was very devastated that he had treated her this way.”
Dibble grabbed a bolt-action .22-caliber rifle his mother had borrowed to ward off rodents from her garden and tracked her down to her bedroom. He shot her once in the back of her head at point-blank range, dragged the body several feet from where it had fallen by the bed, reloaded the rifle and then fired a second fatal shot into her head.
Dibble, 29, now faces up to life in prison after being convicted Tuesday of second-degree murder in Fulton County Court. Jurors also found him guilty of felony counts of criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of stolen property, in addition to a pair of misdemeanor counts of possession of stolen property.
Jurors deliberated for about five hours Tuesday before returning a guilty verdict on all counts. Sira said investigators were able to provide a host of evidence against Dibble, including DNA samples and a strict timeline of events that placed him at the scene of the crime.
“The tight time frame established by police left little opportunity for anyone else to have committed the crime,” she said.
Robert Abdella, Dibble’s defense attorney, couldn’t be reached for comment following the verdict.
Dibble had an extensive criminal history in Fulton County, including convictions on counts of burglary and promoting prison contraband. But Lisman, 59, was resigned to getting him back on his feet, Sira said.
As the months passed, though, Dibble continued down the same troubled path. By summer, he was again facing a felony charge for collecting $5,600 in unemployment insurance when he had a job in Broadalbin.
Sira said Dibble was getting desperate. His confrontation with his mother had only worsened matters.
“He had mounting pressures going into the weekend of June 30 and they came to a head when he realized she had packed his things and put them in a car,” she said. “She wasn’t messing around.”
After shooting his mother, Dibble pawned off some of her belongings, including a chain saw and NASCAR memorabilia. He also took her cherished 1997 Mercedes on a jaunt to Amsterdam to score heroin, Sira said.
A neighbor who hadn’t seen Lisman all day on June 30 tried calling the residence that evening, but got Dibble instead. The first time, he told her that she was in Fort Plain observing flood damage from a recent storm and the second time that she was gambling at a casino.
Suspicious, the neighbor entered Lisman’s home on the morning of July 1 and discovered her body. Dibble remained at large until a state trooper spotted the Mercedes parked at the Mayfield Marina during the afternoon that day.
Investigators later determined Dibble had sold his mother’s jewelry at Double Eagle Coin in Gloversville on three separate occasions in June. Though the jewelry was melted down, the shop owner had receipts that showed the items and was able to identify Dibble as the person who sold them.
Lisman’s family, including two of her children from Florida, attended the proceedings. Jurors deliberated following about seven days of testimony.
Dibble is scheduled to be sentenced on June 12. He faces between 25 years and life in prison.