John Giuca was convicted on a charge of second-degree felony murder in the death of 19-year-old Mark Fisher in 2003. Giuca was arrested a year after the murder, he was found guilty along with Antonio Russo; both were given a sentence of 25 years to life.
In the early morning hours of October 12, 2003, Mark Fisher accompanied a college acquaintance, Angel DiPietro, to a house party at Mr. Giuca’s home in the Ditmas Park section of Brooklyn.
Fisher had started off the evening barhopping in Manhattan with a different group of friends, but after unexpectedly running into Ms. DiPietro and taking a liking to one of her friends, Meredith Denihan, he found himself happily separated from his original group. Fisher, Ms. DiPietro and Ms. Denihan then met up with another friend of Ms. DiPietro’s, Albert Cleary, the son of a prominent member of the Brooklyn GOP, who was out with his buddy, John Giuca. When the group had trouble getting into another bar, Mr. Giuca invited them to party at his house, as his parents were out of town.
According to what investigators were able to piece together, the group arrived at Mr. Giuca’s place around 5 a.m. and began smoking and drinking. At some point, other people joined the party, including Mr. Russo, who was a nearby neighbor. At 5:23 a.m. Fisher, accompanied by Mr. Russo, withdrew $20 from a nearby ATM and both returned to Mr. Giuca’s home within minutes. At some point, Fisher and Ms. Denihan fell asleep and Ms. DiPietro and Mr. Cleary, who lived about three blocks from Mr. Giuca on Argyle Road, left Mr. Giuca’s house.
At about 6:40 a.m. Fisher was shot five times about 50 feet across the street from Mr. Cleary’s driveway on Argyle Road. Cops arrived on the scene within minutes and found his body lying atop a blanket they later confirmed came from Mr. Giuca’s home. Fisher’s wallet was missing but an ATM receipt in his pocket revealed his identity. Only two of five shell casings were recovered from the scene.
Several witnesses saw or heard a vehicle speed down Argyle Road following the shooting. Antonio Russo went to a neighbor’s house at approximately 7AM, asking him to cut off his braids, a style he’d worn for years. Russo also fled to California. Three witnesses told police that they saw Russo with a gun in his waistband both before and after the murder,one was even threatened by Russo with a gun.
At trial prosecutors alleged that the murder was the result of a robbery attempt by Russo, and that John Giuca supplied him the murder weapon (which was never found).
The conviction was based on the testimony of four main witnesses, three of which have since recanted, two of them accusing the trial prosecutor of coercion and intimidation. The fourth witness has been completely discredited.
Nevertheless, appeals have been denied.
Late in 2014, Giuca’s lawyers sent Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson a petition seeking to overturn their client’s conviction, saying they have irrefutable evidence that shows that Giuca didn’t receive a fair trial.
“I am confident John will be exonerated because the case has been exposed as a house of cards propped up by prosecutorial misconduct,” one of his lawyers, Mark Bederow, told The New York Post.
Update Feb 7, 2018 : New Trial Granted