Judge: Hopatcong Murder Suspect Must Stay in Jail
Judge Conforti says preponderance of evidence prohibits court flexibility.
Giuseppe Tedesco, the Hopatcong resident accused of killing a female acquaintance by gunshot at close range, was denied dismissal of his indictment and a reduction in bail at the Sussex County Courthouse on Thursday afternoon.
Tedesco has been charged with the murder of Hopatcong resident Alyssa Ruggieri on March 27, 2010. His attorney, Nutley-based Anthony J. Iacullo, had a motion before the court to dismiss Tedesco's grand jury indictment based on incomplete evidence, and a letter to the judge to reduce the bail sentence.
Superior Court Judge Peter Conforti rejected both requests from the defendant.
"The facts here are certainly strong as to what the state presented to the grand jury," Conforti said.
Conforti proceeded to rattle through the litany of evidence stacked against Tedesco, whose suspected relationship with Ruggieri, according to prosecutors, may have provided motivation for the killing.
"Shot six times at close range, blood on his hand and in his vehicle, witnesses observed him running from the residence of the victim, the bloody .25 caliber Baretta gun was found in the console of the defendant's car (that had fired six of the eight bullets in the gun), one bullet found next to the body, and five bullets in the victim.
"That evidence certainly goes way beyond the state's burden to demonstrate some evidence," Conforti said.
Iacullo's motion also sought dismissal based on heresay about Tedesco's behavior on March 27, the nature of his relationship with Ruggieri, and the "intoxication that my client was under when the statements made were not brought out to the grand jury," Iacullo said.
Conforti continually came back to state's evidence.
"The grand jury was clearly focused on the weapon and the bullets," Conforti said. "I don't see where these conversations with others about the nature of the relationship between the defendant and Ruggieri impacts the grand jury determination here. The court will deny the motion to dismiss," he said.
Iacullo then asked the court to review the bail status, noting that Tedesco has been in custody since Ruggieri was found dead. Bail is set at $1 million dollars in cash or bail bond. Iacullo said that Tedesco is requesting that bail be wholly amended to $100,000 cash.
"This is a family that sold very large assets to get the money together," Iacullo said. "This is a tremendous amount of money to these people. I don't think they should post it with the bail bond and lose it forever."
But assistant prosecutor Seana Pappas called the request "ridiculous."
"First it violates our bail schedules," she said. "In reality what Mr. Iacullo is asking is for you to reduce his bail to $100,000 or make it a million dollar bail bond with a 10 percent option, which he has requested and you have denied."
Conforti said that because of the state's strong evidence, "it compels the court to keep the bail where it is at $1 million dollars."
Conforti said that the court had three key concerns that prevent any change in bail: a flight risk factor because of the strong evidence, Tedesco's "emotional and psychological history" and concerns about safety if a bail bond is posted.
"The court would require that if he resides with his family and they possess any firearms (that those) have to be removed," he said.
Judge Conforti told both Pappas and Iacullo to have bond and evidence presented to the court by September 20.
The court set a pre-trial conference for October 17.