Man convicted of killing mother

JOHNSTOWN – After three hours of deliberation, a Fulton County jury Tuesday found an Ephratah man guilty of killing his mother at her home last summer.

James F. Dibble, 30, was found guilty on all counts, including second-degree murder, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, all felonies, and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a misdemeanor.

For the conviction on second-degree murder, Dibble could face 25 years to life in prison, District Attorney Louise Sira said.

During the reading of the verdict, Dibble stared blankly at the jury. He wore a white button-up shirt and black dress pants. He showed no emotion.

Defense Attorney Robert Abdella said he and his client are disappointed with the jury’s decision and an appeal may be coming.

“I put a lot of time and effort into the case to benefit Mr. Dibble, but obviously, the jury saw it another way,” Abdella said.

Police arrested Dibble on July 2 in the death of Gwenda L. Lisman, 58, who was found July 1 by a neighbor at Lisman’s home at 227 Mud Road, authorities said. Dibble shot his mother in the head with a rifle she borrowed from a neighbor to deal with a rodent problem in her garden, officials said. According to the indictment and testimony during the trial, the killing took place between June 30 and July 1.

The criminal-possession charges stem from Dibble being in possession of stolen property consisting of jewelry belonging to Lisman and NASCAR collectibles belonging to Lisman’s longtime boyfriend, Jeffrey Snell.

Dibble was found guilty of pawning the items for his own benefit. Each of the items exceeded $1,000 in value, officials said.

The lesser count of criminal possession of stolen property stemmed from the sale of a Husqvarna chainsaw belonging to Snell.

Lisman’s sister Denise Barrett said after the verdict she is relieved the case has been decided and her sister has found justice.

“We just want to thank the district attorney, the judge, the sheriff’s department, the jury and state police for all of their hard work to get [Dibble] off the street and for giving my sister justice,” Barrett said as her eyes swelled with tears.

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Sira said she is pleased with the jury’s decision and the family finally having some relief.

“With the really tight time frame [of the incidents] and the DNA evidence presented, I think it really left the jury with no other option,” Sira said.

Scientists for the New York State Police Lab determined Dibble’s DNA was found in four locations on the gun and on the victim’s body.

During Sira’s closing remarks, she stated Dibble killed his mother for financial and material gain. She said Dibble’s actions were the result of betrayal, addiction, greed, obligation and fear.

“The police are led through a case based on where the evidence points,” Sira said during her closing statement. “All the evidence in this case leads to James Dibble.”

Sira said Dibble had been released from jail several months before he moved in with his mother at her Ephratah home. The mother and son argued over Dibble’s alleged theft of jewelry from his mother before she tried to get him to move out of the house. Dibble then shot and killed his mother, authorities said.

Previously in 2013, state police had arrested Dibble on a felony charge for allegedly collecting $5,600 in unemployment benefits while he was employed with Bast Hatfield, Sira said.

Sira said Dibble had a history of felony offenses, including a pending grand larceny charge for the alleged theft of an ATV in Montgomery County.

Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey, whose department was leading the murder investigation, said he was pleased with Tuesday’s guilty verdict.

“The jury has spoken and I’d like to thank the district attorney for all of her hard work during this case,” Lorey said.

Fulton County Court Judge Polly Hoye tentatively scheduled sentencing for June 12 at 10 a.m. in Fulton County Court.

Sira said the judge will decide whether Dibble will serve sentences for the two felony stolen-property convictions consecutively or concurrently with the sentence for murder. She said each of the stolen-property convictions could bring a sentence of up to two to four years.

Levi Pascher can be reached at