Shooting Shatters A Couple's Dream

Posted: February 13, 1990

If ever there were star-crossed lovers, they were Shane Reilly and Kim Smith Winter.

The Bristol Borough couple were forbidden by their parents to see each other and would sneak out of their houses almost every day to meet at a friend's house or a prearranged corner. They would drive around the neighborhood and talk about escaping to Florida after Reilly graduated from Bishop Egan High School.

The life they planned together was as bright as a Florida sunrise. Reilly, 18, a senior honors student, would work as a plumber, and Winter, 22, a part- time waitress, would work on her tan.

But early Saturday morning, two bullets did what no one else could. They

put an end to their dreams and their life together.

Reilly was fatally shot during a quarrel with a teenager whom he suspected of seeing Winter.

Mark Graber, 16, a freshman at Bristol Junior-Senior High School, was charged with shooting Reilly in the head and shoulder outside Winter's house in the 700 block of Corson Street.

NO FEUD, POLICE SAY

The crime sent a shiver through even hardened detectives, who noted that the two had no longtime feud going. "You might expect something like this

from someone who's been through the (prison) system but not from a 16-year- old," said Bristol Borough Detective Charles Favoroso. "It just seemed so cold, so calculated. It's hard for us to make sense out of it."

Graber admitted to police that he intentionally shot Reilly, according to court records. The youth will be charged as an adult and will face first- degree murder charges, District Attorney Alan Rubenstein said.

Graber's brother Karl, 20, rejects the notion of his brother as a killer. Mark Graber had dreamed of going to law school and had excellent marks in ninth grade.

Yes, he had had emotional problems, his brother acknowledged. Mark had failed a grade and was sent to live with grandparents in Michigan for three years.

But Karl Graber said his brother was popular and smart. He said Mark had been drinking beer that night and had gotten caught up in a macho showdown with Reilly.

He said Reilly had taunted Mark, saying, "You ain't got the guts to pull the trigger." He also said Reilly had ripped off his brother's gold chains.

"I think the whole thing was just a cry for help," said Karl Graber. ''Mark doesn't do things like that. He was provoked."

LIVES WITH PARENTS

Such statements are worthless to Winter, who talked yesterday about the events preceding the shooting and the man "I really loved a lot."

Winter, who is separated and has a 3-year-old daughter, lives with her parents in the modest rowhouse on Corson Street. Children's toys are scattered on the front lawn. A bullet from the shooting pierced the front of the house and shattered the glass door of a china cabinet.

Winter and Reilly, who had been dating for about 2 1/2 months, saw each other off and on throughout the day of the shooting.

After they fought that night - she hadn't told him where she would be that day - she went driving around Bristol with a female friend. They picked up another youth and went to Bristol Junior-Senior High School, where they saw Mark Graber walking and offered him a ride.

Winter said she barely knew Graber and had spoken to him only once previously. But when her friend dropped her off at her house, Reilly walked up to the car and asked Graber "if he was messin' around with me," she said quietly, her eyes cast down. "He's really jealous," she said.

She went inside, but Reilly and Graber remained outside quarreling. She then went outside and Reilly grabbed her arm and dragged her up the street, she said.

Police said Graber then went home, unlocked his father's gun cabinet and took out a .357 magnum revolver. He returned to Corson Street, where he and Reilly, a weight lifter, began quarreling again. Graber pulled out the gun but did not shoot, police said.

Marilyn Smith, Winter's mother, recalled that Reilly returned to the front of the house and told her, "Somebody's out to kill me."

Their conversation was cut short when someone fired at them from across the street, she said.

The two took cover behind a nearby truck. She made a break for the house, she said, but Reilly stayed behind. She said a bullet whizzed by her head while she was running. Once inside, she called police.

Graber allegedly fired four shots at the victim and one at a neighbor, David Girard, who was unhurt. One bullet entered Reilly's forehead, passing through his brain. Another hit his shoulder, and he died at 3:30 a.m. Saturday, about 3 1/2 hours after the shooting, officials said.

Winter said she and Reilly started dating after he had asked a mutual friend for an introduction. "I knew right away that I liked him," she said.

But his mother did not like her - presumably because she was older and still married, she said - and told Reilly not to see her. But he met her almost every day. Sometimes he would sneak out of his house at night and throw pebbles at her bedroom window to awaken her, she recalled.

When they couldn't get together, he would call her and tell her to meet him briefly at the corner and he would give her a note or poem professing his love.

"He said he didn't care what his mom said. When he graduated he'd take me away and we'd be together," she said.

She left the room and returned with a small bundle of his love notes. In one, he filled an entire page with "I love Kim," using a heart for the word love.

Winter stared at the page and smiled slightly.

"Ain't love grand?" she said.

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