SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) A verdict has come down in a 2018 homicide case of a confidential informant.
34-year-old Cornelius Mapson has been found guilty of first degree murder in the death of 24-year-old Nina Gatto as well as additional drug charges.
Gatto was found suffocated to death on April 20th 2018 in her Bangor Heights apartment in Scranton. Investigators say her killers, Mapson, 39-year-old Melinda Palermo and 27-year-old Kevin Weeks, who have pleaded guilty to conspiring to kill Gatto, injected her with fentanyl to make it look like a deadly drug overdose.
District Attorney Mark Powell says Gatto was working with investigators and prosecutors as a confidential informant to catch drug dealers in the act when she was strangled to death.
“It acts as a deterrent to a very valuable tool that law enforcement to stop the poison from coming into communities,” Powell said about the guilty verdict. “So, any threat to any witness we take very seriously.”
Gatto helped the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office with controlled purchase of crack cocaine and heroin from Mapson. Gatto was to testify against Mapson in this drug case.
“At the end it was transparent that he was the one who wanted her dead. He is the one that had everything to gain. He is the one who had everything to lose,” Powell said.
Mapson declined his right to a jury trial in March after Powell dropped his request to seek the death penalty. Mapson’s bench trial started last week and wrapped up on Friday with the verdict coming down on Tuesday.
“We hope that this verdict brings some closure to Nina Gatto’s family and friends,” Powell said.
Mapson will spend, at maximum, life in prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
He was also found guilty on drug charges which carry 30 years per charge or a possible sentencing of another 100 years, according to the district attorney.
Along with Mapson, Palermo pleaded guilty to third degree murder and Weeks pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit third degree murder.