Pappalardi Slay Witness
Shatters Gail's Gun Tale

By Mike Pearl and Peter Fearon
New York Post, Sept. 20 1983

The blonde wife of rock star Corky Laing told yesterday how Gail Collins once pulled a gun on her and her slain husband Felix Pappalardi in a fit of jealousy.

The gun was the same .38 caliber weapon with which she is alleged to have murdered Felix Pappalardi, the leader of the disbanded rock group Mountain, in a jealous rage. She also told the Manhattan Supreme Court jury that Felix and Gail joined the Laings for shooting practice in Nantucket.

The dramatic testimony - interrupted by outbursts from rock guitarist Leslie West - directly counters almost every aspect of Gail Pappalardi's defense.

Gail has sworn that she loathed and feared handguns, knew next to nothing about how to use them and was not jealous of her husband. She has claimed that on the day Felix was killed, he was giving her an impromptou shooting lesson and was shot dead in a freak accident.

Schoolteacher Frances Laing, the wife of former Mountain drummer Corky Laing, was ordered to appear at the trial before Manhattan Supremem Court Justice James Leff under subpoena from a Connecticut judge. She told the court that in the summer of 1975 she ran into Felix at the Chicken Box restraunt in Nantucket.

"We were trying to have a conversation but the band was too loud so we went out to the parking lot and sat in my car to finish our conversation. All of a sudden, Gail showed up with Norma Maye. She was obviously very irate. She was standing at my window, she pulled a gun and pointed it at me. She was upset about Felix and I sitting and talking in the car."

"Felix got out of the car and went to his own car and drove off.."

"I asked Gail, 'Is this a joke?' "

Mrs. Laing said that later she, Gail and Norma Maye - who according to previous testimony took part in three-way sex romps with the Pappalardis - calmed down and went for a drink. She identified the gun Gail pulled as the same .38 cal. silver derringer which Felix was shot in the neck.

"When Felix got that gun for her she was quite proud of it."

She testified that she, Gail and Felix went to a Nantucket sandpit to practice shooting with handguns.

There were two outbursts from the mammoth West, another former member of Mountain.

At one point, when defense attorney Neir Comer suggested that members of Mountain blamed Gail for the breakup of the group and had suffered financially when they disbanded, West shouted, "That's a lie!"

Earlier, he had shouted corrections to Comer when he was identifying members of the Pappalardi family in the court. Comer complained, but West was allowed to stay in the courtroom.

DR. Felix Pappalardi, 72, father of the slain rock guitarist and record producer, testified earlier that Gail had told him their marraige was breaking up - just four months before the shooting.

He said according to his phone bill, he had a 57 minute conversation with his son and daughter-in-law on December 12, 1982. Felix Pappalardi was shot April 17, 1983.

He said he spoke with Gail for between 10 and 15 minutes and for the rest of the time to his son - but he was not allowed to testify on what his son had told him.