Rosemarie DiGuglielmo has seen her son charged with murder, convicted, put in jail, released from jail and forced back to jail for defending her husband’s life.
Though the recent decision of the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals’ for the Second Circuit serves as another blow to her family—affirming that Richard DiGuglielmo will have to finish out the remainder of his 20 years to life sentence—she says she isn’t giving up hope.
“I will continue to fight for my son’s freedom,” said DiGuglielmo of Dobbs Ferry. “I wish Richie wasn’t there that night, because [Charles] Campbell would have been in jail for wounding my husband.”
DiGuglielmo said that Campbell struck her husband with a bat and that her son was only protecting his father.
“What was he [Richard DiGuglielmo] supposed to do? Wait for the next blow to be a fatal one to the head? We will deal with it [the court’s decision] one way or another,” said DiGuglielmo. “What else can I do?”
The federal appeals court rejected the former New York City police officer’s bid on Monday to overturn the 1996 second degree murder conviction—which found that Richard DiGuglielmo’s didn’t intentionally kill Charles Campbell, but showed a “depraved indifference to human life.”
“The family of Charles Campbell is pleased but not surprised that the federal appeals court recognizes that the jury who convicted Richard DiGuglielmo in 1997 did so after a fair trial and fully evaluating the evidence,” said Debra Cohen, an attorney for Campbell’s family.
Cohen said that she does agree with DiGuglielmo that Campbell’s death and her son’s murder conviction could have been avoided if Richard DiGuglielmo chose to call police instead of pick up a gun and shoot Campbell.
“None of us would be here talking about this situation,” said Cohen.
Campbell’s death started out as an argument with Richard DiGuglielmo’s father and brother-in-law over parking on Oct. 3, 1996. The White Plains sanitation worker parked his car in front of in Dobbs Ferry, which is owned by the DiGuglielmo’s, then walked across the street to buy a slice of pizza. Richard DiGuglielmo, his father and brother-in-law then placed a no-parking sticker on Campbell’s car, according to The Journal News.
There was a scuffle between the men and the father and brother-in-law subdued Campbell, who then returned with a metal baseball bat and hit the father with it. Cohen said that Campbell hit DiGuglielmo’s husband to push him back and prevent him from advancing any closer towards Campbell.
DiGuglielmo, who testified his action was that of a former New York City police officer who was trying to protect his father, retrieved a gun and shot Campbell several times after his father was hit with the bat.
The prosecution said that Campbell was defending himself, no longer swinging the bat, wasn’t close enough to anyone to inflict further harm with the bat and was retreating, The Journal News says.
that regardless of whether jurors heard testimony from witnesses saying they were coerced by police into changing their testimony, Richard DiGuglielmo still would have been found guilty.
“I don’t think that either of the two people [witnesses] they are referring to ever said they were coerced,” said Cohen. “They said they felt pressure from being repeatedly questioned.”
The DiGuglielmos said they were puzzled as to the federal appeals court’s decision which was based on testimony from Matthew Kay that Campbell wasn’t closed enough to anyone to inflict deadly force on them with the bat—since Kay’s statement (click of PDF) the night of the murder and trial testimony says that Campbell took a step forward with the bat while in a batter’s stance and that the father was standing closest to DiGuglielmo.
“It’s like they want to be deaf, dumb and blind,” said DiGuglielmo. “How could you have any confidence in a trial where you know the police coerced the witnesses? At the very least he never had a fair trial.”
Cohen discredited one of the witness' who said he was pressured by police saying that the defense decided not to call him during the trail because they felt he wasn’t credible, that he had a substance abuse problem and that police reports show that he admitted that he had been drinking when he was questioned after the shooting and that he was a friend of the DiGuglielmo family.
“He’s [Richar DiGuglielmo] a murderer,” said Cohen. “He’s where he needs to be.”
DiGuglielmo said she has yet to speak to lawyers about possible further legal action that could be taken that would free her son. Click for a past interview with DiGuglielmo.