If the New York District Attorney's office gathers sufficient evidence, it may soon charge James Rackover and Lawrence Dilione with second degree murder in the case of the stabbing death of Joseph Comunale. So what is likely to happen to Rackover and Dilione if they are charged and eventually convicted?
Fifteen to twenty five years
Second degree murder is defined in the state of New York as having caused the death of an individual with the intent to do so, or having acted recklessly in a manner that created a grave risk to human life which resulted in their death.
The statute for sentencing in the New York State penal code specifies that individuals convicted of second-degree murder are subject to fifteen to twenty five years' worth of imprisonment. There is an exception to the law if the murder is of a minor 14 years old or younger and when that murder is accompanied by a sex crime. However, that exception would not be applicable in this case.
These are early days
It should be noted that as of November 23rd, the district attorney had not filed charges against the individuals beyond improper disposal of the body, tampering with evidence, and hindering prosecution as the murder investigation is ongoing.
Not all the circumstances of the homicide have been determined to allow the prosecutor to file with confidence. Also, it is likely that the attorneys representing Rackover and Dilione are working diligently to protect their clients' rights.
Rackover and Dilione are currently being held on $3 million bond or $300,000 cash bail after their arraignment on November 24th.
But they confessed, didn't they?
Various media outlets have reported that according to officials involved with the case, Rackover and Dilione directed law enforcement officials to the site of Comunale's body in Oceanport, New Jersey. That would surely mean they confessed and will be convicted, yes? Not necessarily.
Vigorous criminal defense attorneys may be able to ensure that anything said by the suspects during interrogation be excluded from evidence if procedures were not followed properly by the NYPD.
The fact is there are many details yet to be uncovered in the ongoing investigation of Comunale's death. Whether the two suspects are ever charged with murder remains to be seen. Until that time, everything appearing as fact in the news must be viewed with extreme caution while the wheels of justice move forward.