PHOTO: Gregory Cucchiara murdered his mother in their Bayside mansion (pictured) in May 2011. And in August 2012, he smothered his father with a pillow in his dad’s Astoria apartment. Photo Courtesy of Google
By Michael V. Cusenza
In what Queens District Attorney Richard Brown last week called “a horrifying case of cold-blooded murder,” a Bayside man has been convicted of killing his parents – first by beating and submerging his mother’s head in a tub full of water in 2011, and then subsequently smothering his father to death with a pillow in bed 15 months later.
Gregory Cucchiara, 39, was found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder last Friday following a three-week jury trial in which he represented himself and offered a bizarre defense that placed all blame on a drug that he said is used to cast hexes.
According to testimony, Cucchiara’s mother, Giusepina Cucchiara, 66, was found dead in the family’s 28th Avenue home on May 24, 2011. She had been struck on the head with a perfume bottle and choked with the pearl necklace she wore before having her head forced below the water in the bathtub. Autopsy results, Brown said, determined the mother of two had died as a result of having her head submerged under water after blunt force trauma.
According to trial records, Carmelo Cucchiara, 75, fearful of his son, immediately moved out of the Bayside home he shared with Gregory and Giusepina after her death and took up residence in a basement apartment in his daughter’s Astoria home. On August 21, 2012, Cucchiara’s daughter found him lying in bed with a pillow covering his face. He had bruising on his forehead and his body was cold to the touch. The Medical Examiner determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation. Gregory Cucchiara had visited his father the previous evening and was the last person to see him alive, according to testimony.
Additionally, Brown said, both victims suffered blunt force trauma to their heads before they were killed. DNA evidence found under the fingernails of Giusepina and Carmelo were matched to their only son.
Cucchiara was arrested on Nov. 13, 2012, following an extensive investigation by NYPD detectives and the Brown’s office. Prosecutors believe that drug-addled Cucchiara murdered his parents over money.
Brown said that Cucchiara “stands convicted of using his hands to force his mother’s head under the water in her bathtub, killing her. Not yet done, he then uses those same hands the following year to murder his father by taking a pillow and suffocating him to death. Such senseless acts of violence demonstrate that the defendant is a threat to society and deserving to spend the rest of his life behind bars.”
Cucchiara is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 23. He faces up to 50 years to life in prison.