Family of Murdered Man Opposes Early Prison Release for Off-Duty Police Officer Who Shot Him

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GAVEL_lawsuit-judge-gavelCharles Campbell Family Attorneys Write Governor Opposing DiGuglielmo Application for Commutation of Sentence

NEW YORK, NY — December 26, 2013 — The family of Charles Campbell, an African-American man shot and killed in the parking lot of the Venice Deli in Dobbs Ferry, New York, on October 3, 1996, by the deli owner's off-duty police officer son, are opposing Richard D. DiGuglielmo's application to Governor Andrew Cuomo to commute his 20 years to life prison sentence. DiGuglielmo was convicted of second degree murder in 1997 following a seven week trial and testimony from thirteen witnesses. According to longtime Campbell family attorney, Randolph M. McLaughlin, the family was advised last week that DiGuglielmo had filed an application with the Governor's office seeking early release. In a letter to Governor Cuomo opposing the application on behalf of the Campbell family, McLaughlin and his partner Debra S. Cohen, said that the application should be denied in the "interest of justice" and that if DiGuglielmo is released prior to serving his full sentence, "It will raise questions in many people's minds as to why he has been afforded special treatment." According to the letter, "the interests of justice require that Richard D. DiGuglielmo be treated no better, and no worse, than any other person convicted of murder in what has been adjudged by numerous courts to have been a fair process.

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December 26, 2013 

The Honorable Governor of the State of New York

Mr. Andrew M. Cuomo

Executive Chamber

State Capitol

Albany, New York 12224

 

Dear Governor Cuomo:

 

We have represented the family of the late Charles Campbell for seventeen years. Mr.Campbell's family was very disturbed to learn recently that Richard D. DiGuglielmo has submitted an application seeking commutation of his sentence for murdering Mr. Campbell onOctober 3, 1996. They have asked us to communicate to you that they strongly oppose this application and to explain to you why.

Since the day he was killed, Mr. Campbell's family and friends have vigilantly sought justice. They initially thought it had been obtained when, in October 1997, a jury in Westchester County convicted Richard D. DiGuglielmo of depraved indifference murder. The conviction came after a seven week trial where thirteen witnesses to the shooting, and/or the events leading up to it, testified as to what they saw and heard. However, since his conviction, DiGuglielmo and his family, friends and supporters have engaged in a relentless campaign to distort the events as described by these many witnesses in an attempt to disparage the memory of Mr. Campbell and absolve DiGuglielmo of responsibility for his actions.

On the day of the murder, Mr. Campbell drove to Dobbs Ferry, New York to pick up a pay check at St. Christopher's School, a residential facility for at risk youth where he was a popular recreation counselor. Mr. Campbell was also at the time employed full time by the City of White Plains Department of Sanitation. At approximately 5:00 p.m., Mr. Campbell parked his car in a space in front of the Venice Deli and walked across the street to get a slice of pizza. The deli, the two story building where it was located and the parking lot in front of the building were, and are, owned by the applicant's parents, Richard B. and Rosemarie DiGuglielmo. Their son-in-law, Robert Errico was also working in the deli that day. Their son, Richard D. DiGuglielmo, was employed at the time as a New York City Police Officer but was off duty and visiting his father at the deli when Mr. Campbell arrived. Unbeknownst to Mr. Campbell, there was a long history of incidents at the Venice Deli wherein the DiGuglielmos verbally and physically attacked people who parked in their lot but then patronized the pizzeria located across Ashford Avenue. A list of 20 prior incidents is annexed hereto as Attachment 1. The list was compiled from incident reports on file at the Dobbs Ferry Police Department. Several of the complainants were interviewed by us in preparation for a civil lawsuit and some testified at that trial. 

While across the street in the pizzeria, Mr. Campbell saw DiGuglielmo, Sr. affixing an illegal yellow sticker to the passenger side window of Mr. Campbell's new sports car. He left the pizzeria and began running towards his car only to be met in the middle of the parking lot by the elder DiGuglielmo, his son Richard D. DiGuglielmo and his son-in-law Robert Errico. The three men beat Mr. Campbell to the ground, held him down, and struck him repeatedly about the head with their fists and with Mr. Campbell's cell phone. The fight was witnessed by, and testified to by several witnesses at the criminal trial. 

Mr. Campbell got to his feet and moved towards his car. He was followed by the elder DiGuglielmo. As DiGuglielmo, Sr. approached him, Mr. Campbell opened his trunk and removed a baseball bat. Witnesses testified that he swung it at the approaching man's calf, striking him in the lower part of his leg. Numerous witnesses testified that Mr. Campbell then backed away from the still approaching DiGuglielmo, Sr. while holding, but not swinging, the bat in a defensive position by his shoulder. Four young boys returning from the local park testified to Mr. Campbell "power walking" backwards away from the deli and his car, across the full length of the parking lot towards the street, as the deli owner continued to chase him. They also testified to seeing the applicant rush out from the deli, stop in the middle of the parking lot and, without any hesitation or verbal warnings, shoot Mr. Campbell three times. In addition to the four young boys, several witnesses sitting in rush hour traffic on Ashford Avenue observed and testified to some or all of the shooting. 

Mr. Campbell fell to the ground at the sidewalk along Ashford Avenue after retreating across the entire length of the parking lot and without ever swinging the bat again. The medical examiner corroborated the testimony of the witnesses who testified to Mr. Campbell's defensive posture at the time he was shot. A nurse who was in the deli when the shooting occurred rushed outside to assist Mr. Campbell. At the civil trial she testified that she asked the DiGuglielmos to get her some towels but they refused. The applicant, Richard D. DiGuglielmo referred to Mr.Campbell as a "piece of shit. His father told her, "Get out of here, you didn't see anything." 

The gun that Richard D. DiGuglielmo used to kill Mr. Campbell was one of several licensed weapons owned by his father. This particular gun was carried daily by DiGuglielmo, Sr. from his home located a few blocks from the deli in Dobbs Ferry. When deposed for the civil trial, DiGuglielmo, Sr. admitted that neither he nor the deli had ever been robbed or the victim of a crime in the neighborhood. Yet, every day, he carried the gun from home to the deli where it was kept in an open holster hanging from a nail under the cash register.

His son, the applicant Richard D. DiGuglielmo, was no stranger to violence. For example, ten years prior to shooting Charles Campbell, while still on probation with the New York City Police Department, the applicant was charged with assaulting a man in Yonkers, New York, after being asked to leave a party. He was allowed to plead to a lesser count, thus preserving his law enforcement employment. Since Richard D. DiGuglielmo's conviction, he has refused to accept responsibility for his actions. He, his family, and his supporters have engaged in a widespread public relations campaign to paint Mr. Campbell as the aggressor, Richard B. DiGuglielmo as a helpless victim, and Richard D. DiGuglielmo as his father's heroic savior. This mischaracterization of the events of October 3, 1996, is contrary to the testimony of thirteen impartial witnesses and is a classic "blame the victim" strategy that continues to inflict tremendous pain on the Campbell family.

There is no basis in law or fact for Richard D. DiGuglielmo to be afforded the extraordinary relief of commutation of his sentence. If he is released prior to serving his full sentence, it will raise questions in many people's minds as to why he has been afforded special treatment. Is it because he was a police officer? Is it because his family had access to legal and public relations experts not available to most convicted murderers? Is it because his distorted version of the events has enhanced credibility because he is white and Mr. Campbell was black? The interests of justice require that Richard D. DiGuglielmo be treated no better, and no worse than any other person convicted of murder in what has been adjudged by numerous courts to have been a fair process.

On behalf of Charles Campbell's son Vaughn, his family and many friends, we respectfully, but strongly, urge you to reject Richard D. DiGuglielmo's application to commute his sentence. Thank you for your consideration of the family's position in this matter.

 

Very truly yours,

 

Randolph M. McLaughlin

Debra S. Cohen

 

Counsel to the Campbell Family

eHeziFamily of Murdered Man Opposes Early Prison Release for Off-Duty Police Officer Who Shot Him

Comments 5

  1. This case still disturbs me. I wish I knew the truth about what happened. Unfortunately both their lives were taken in some form or another. I think that the actions of the DAs office in Westchester ruins the credibility of this case and others especially when Jeanine was the DA. Her office hid evidence and was famous for pressuring people to testify the way she wanted them to. Remember the boxes of evidence that her office failed to turn over to the defense on the Balancio case? Needless to say, who knows what really happened the day Charles Campell died.

  2. There is more to it than this. Allegations were made that the police coerced some of these witnesses and that some of them recanted their original statements. This easily could happen. Being a witness to a crime is something you might have to do once in a lifetime, how good do you think you are going to be. Also there are proper ways to interview. How much experience do the D.F.Police have ? What about the fact the D.A charged murder with depraved indifference ? I believe there are two many variables here and a panel from another jurisdiction should take a look at the case once more and then put it to bed win lose or draw.

  3. I’ve missed a lot of the “facts” of this sad story. This letter has outlined facts, and therefore I have to presume that is why the shooter was jailed, that I’ve never heard before. 13 witnesses, a nurse, 3 or 4 kids walking by, and a medical examiner all backing up the victim’s position. An offduty police officer that doesn’t announce that. A victim, albeit with a bat, but backing up and shot 3 times. The proximity of the victim in relationship to the deli, the car and the supposed intended target of the bat. I would think that most people would back off if confronted with a gun being pointed at them. This was not a criminal or someone walking into their store to rob it. He had absolutely no right at all to park his car in front of that deli. They did have a right to put a sticker on his car if he was illegally park on their property. But killing someone over a parking space. Sorry, I don’t think anyone can justify that. The deli owners should have picked up the phone and dialed 911 if Mr. Campbell was approaching anyone with a bat. If the victim was approaching with a bat, again, I would think anyone in their right mind would immediately retreat from a gun…bat or not. The evidence was presented, DiGulielmo was convicted, he needs to serve the full sentence.

  4. Rich, I normally disagree with you, but you are spot
    on with this..Liver lips Pirro wanted to appease
    the masses. Diguglielmo is the victim and the DOA
    was the perp..

  5. The simple truth is that Richard DiGuglielmo has been a political prisoner in his own country for 14 years serving the wrongful objectives of both DA Pirro and DA DiFiore. The death of Charles Campbell though tragic, was clearly justified under Article 35 of the New York State codes. He was shot by a police officer whose sworn duty it was to defend any unarmed civilian who is under attack by a perpetrator using deadly force.
    The fact that that perpetrator happened to be Black did not exempt Campbell from the Rule of Law. Had I been beating officer DiGuglielmo’s middle-aged father with a baseball bat, as three witnesses described what Charles Campbell was doing, I would be just as dead as he is now. McLaughlin and his wife Debra Cohen want to claim “special treatment” with respect to Officer DiGuglielmo. If by “special” they mean wrongful conviction, then they are absolutely right!
    What happened to Campbell involved self-defense, as clearly identified by O’Donnell, Dillon and White, until the Dobbs Ferry Police, under orders from Pirro, coerced and harassed them for four days and nights to change their statements.

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