Accused Hopatcong Murderer's Plea Request Rejected
Trial in the death of borough resident Alyssa Ruggereri to begin Wednesday.
NEWTON–A week before the murder trial that could send his client to jail for 30 years, the attorney for accused killer Giuseppe Tedesco, asked the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office if the state would discuss a plea of aggravated manslaughter, a query that was rejected.
In a status conference Thursday before Superior Court Judge Peter Conforti, Seana Pappas, the Sussex County assistant prosecutor trying the case, said Tedesco’s attorney Anthony Iacullo asked in a letter if the state would consider the lesser charge.
“The only plea offer the state was willing to consider was a plea to murder that carried a sentence of 30 years in jail with no possibility of parole,” Pappas said.
Iacullo said his client already rejected that plea offer and the state “knows we won’t discuss this.”
Aggravated manslaughter carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years and the possibility of a fine up to $200,000
Conforti said jury selection is to begin Wednesday. He set a court schedule that runs to December that accounts for vacations, his other court duties, and other contingencies.
Tedesco is charged with murder, illegal possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose in Ruggieri’s 2010 death.
The allegations were placed on the record during a January pre-trial conference hearing during which Tedesco formally rejected the state’s plea offer of a 30 year prison sentence on the murder charge.
At that January hearing, Pappas, said Tedesco and Ruggieri had exchanged text messages on March 27, 2010, during which Ruggiero refused to meet Tedesco, who had asked the woman to share in a birthday celebration.
When she refused, Pappas said, Tedesco took a weapon that was not registered to him from his home, drove to her Hopatcong neighborhood, and entered Ruggieri’s Durban Street home.
Inside, Pappas said, Tedesco shot Ruggieri six times, including twice in the face.
In the process, he also shot himself in the hand, Pappas said. Leaving Ruggieri’s home, Pappas said, Tedesco called his home and spoke with his mother. He told her that he had shot himself “and that something might have happened at Ruggieri’s apartment.”
At his home, Tedesco repeated what he told his mother, and was taken to the hospital, Pappas said. Only after that, Pappas said, were the police called. Police responded to Ruggieri’s home and discovered that she had been shot.
At a July 2011 hearing Conforti reviewed the state’s evidence that had been presented to a grand jury, including witness testimony that alleged Tedecso was seen running from Ruggieri’s home, that a bloody .25 caliber Baretta gun was found in Tedesco’s car, five bullets from the weapons were found in the victim’s body, and another was found on the floor near the victim.
Iacullo reiterated to the court Wednesday he plans to present a self-defense case. In answer to a question from Pappas, Iacullo said that his only witness, outside of the possible testimony from Tedesco, would be an expert on self-defense.