Prosecutor: Ruggieri Refused to Celebrate Killer's Birthday
Judge sets June 5 trial date.
The refusal by Alyssa Ruggieri of Hopatcong to agree to celebrate Giuseppe Tedesco’s birthday led to her shooting death, the state argued Monday.
Tedesco, also of Hopatcong, 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 pre-trial conference hearing during which Tedesco formally rejected the state’s plea offer of a 30-year prison sentence on the murder charge.
Seana Pappas, an assistant prosecutor in the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office, told Superior Court Judge Peter Conforti that the pair exchanged text messages on March 27, 2010, during which Ruggieri refused to meet Tedesco, who had asked the woman to share in a birthday celebration.
When Ruggieri refused, Pappas said, Tedesco took a weapon that was not registered to him from his home, drove to her neighborhood and entered Ruggieri’s Durban Avenue 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. Pappas said Tedesco told his mother that he had shot himself “and that something might have happened at Ruggieri’s apartment.”
At his home, Pappas said, Tedesco repeated what he told his mother, and was taken to the hospital. Only after that, Pappas said, were the police called. Police responded to Ruggieri’s home and discovered that she had been shot.
Conforti set a June 5 trial date.
Tedesco is being held at the Sussex County Jail on $1 million bail.
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 was found in Tedesco’s car; and that five bullets from the weapon were found in the victim’s body while another was found on the floor near the victim.
In a previous court session, Tedesco’s attorney Anthony Iacullo tried unsuccessfully to get a bail reduction.
Tedesco has also previously rejected the state’s plea offer.
Iacullo previously stated to the court that Tedesco would claim self-defense. Pappas asked Monday if that still was the case, and Iacullo said it was.
Conforti set deadlines of 30 and 45 days before the trial date for motions and reports from experts to be filed.
Iacullo said one issue with the June 5 date was that he is scheduled to begin a trial in May that could run up to eight weeks.