PHOTO: Gregory Cucchiara has been sentenced to 50 years to life in prison for murdering his mother in their Bayside mansion (pictured) in May 2011, and smothering his father to death with a pillow in his dad’s Astoria apartment in August 2012. File Photo
By Forum Staff
A Bayside man has been sentenced to 50 years to life in prison for the violent murders of both his parents – first by beating his mother and submerging her head in a tub of water, and then a year later smothering his father to death in his dad’s bed, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Gregory Cucchiara, 40, was found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder last month 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.
“This was a heinous case of cold-blooded murder and the ultimate betrayal of family trust,” Brown said. “The defendant was convicted of killing both his mother and his father. He viciously beat his mother and then forced her head below the surface of the water in a bathtub. In a separate attack, the defendant held a pillow against his father’s face as he laid in bed, suffocating him to death. These senseless, violent crimes more than justify the sentence imposed today by the Court.”