Joseph Grippo was sentenced in Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverside on Wednesday.
Joseph Grippo was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison plus five years of supervised release, following legal proceedings stemming from his fatal attack on Robert Casado on a trail in Kirk Park in Montauk in June 2019.
Mr Grippo, 50, was convicted of first-degree manslaughter on July 18. He admitted before Judge Stephen L. Braslow that he ambushed and bludgeoned Mr. Casado to death with a pickaxe handle on the morning of June 6, 2019, while Mr. Casado was on his way to his landscaping work .
Mr Casado, who was 38, was found lying on the ground bleeding heavily by passers-by in Kirk Park, and he died after being rushed to Stony Brook University Hospital. His death was attributed to blunt force trauma and stab wounds to the face and neck.
Mr. Grippo and Mr. Casado had been romantically involved with the same woman, which prosecutors identified as a motive as the case progressed.
Having received multiple reports, the police arrested Mr. Grippo two weeks after the attack. He had since been in the Yaphank County Jail. In April, Mr Grippo – whose initial charge was second-degree murder – lashed out in the courtroom of Judge Braslow, who had just passed on the offer of a plea deal involving what would have been a shorter sentence, 18 years.
Following his outburst, which he accused of being “just a little frustrated” with the Covid-related disruptions and delays in the criminal courts, he insisted on being tried. A murder conviction after a trial on the original charge could have meant 25 years to life. Mr. Grippo eventually asked the prosecution to consider another plea deal.
After accepting the manslaughter plea in July, Dan Russo, one of Mr Grippo’s lawyers, said it was ‘the right charge for this case. It’s fair, given the circumstances’ .
Mr. Grippo had previously served 15 years in state prison following an armed robbery conviction in 1998.
Although the pickaxe handle was never found, Mr. Grippo admitted to purchasing it from Riverhead Building Supply a few weeks before he killed Mr. Casado, “for the purpose of using it on Casado”, said the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office to a statement Thursday afternoon.
Mr. Grippo also told prosecutors he dumped the murder weapon at the city of Montauk’s recycling center.
Mr Grippo had been dropped off near the site of the murder by a person who said he had no idea of Mr Grippo’s plans that morning. “When Grippo called the witness to pick him up,” the Thursday press release notes, “the witness observed that Grippo had blood on his hands and a blood-stained ‘wooden object’ in his possession”.
After Mr. Grippo was convicted in Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverside, Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney said justice had been served. “This defendant will no longer be able to harm others.”