Murder suspect in ‘jeweler to the stars case’: My pal did the killing
One of the three suspects charged in the murder of a man in a posh Sutton Place apartment recounted the bloody slaying and botched effort to cover it up in chillingly calm detail in a Manhattan courtroom Monday.
“I turned around and that’s when I saw the knife being pulled out of Joey’s head,” Lawrence Dilione casually told prosecutor Antoinette Carter as she grilled him about the murder of Joseph Comunale.
Dilione, 29, claims his friend James Rackover — the adopted son of Manhattan jeweler-to-the-stars Jeffrey Rackover — did the actual killing. But he admits to first beating and “body slamming” the 26-year-old Connecticut man until he was bloodied and unconscious after Comunale suggested Dilione was mooching from them after a night of partying in November 2016.
Dilione said he was set off by Comunale grousing to him, “James is bringing cocaine, I’ve got cigarettes, what the f–k are you bringing to the table?”
After the beating, “[Comunale] was having trouble breathing. [Rackover] said, ‘We’re gonna go to jail for a long time, we gotta get rid of him.’ I said, ‘I’ll take the blame,’ but he said, ‘Look at my hands,’ and they were covered in blood,” Dilione said with a shrug during the pretrial hearing.
“At that point, [Rackover] started to strangle him,” Dilione continued, adding he then hustled to get his sleeping friend, Max Gemma, out of the tony Midtown apartment.
“We were ordered [by Rackover] to take off our clothes, and my pair of jeans was used for strangling Joey,” Dilione testified, claiming he then saw Rackover pulling the blade from Comunale’s head.
It’s not clear at what point in the night Comunale died.
“I guess maybe James realized he could dismember the body,” Dilione testified. “He started to try and sever [Comunale’s] arm, but he couldn’t get through the bone, and he got angry and started stabbing the body multiple times.”
Dilione testified that Rackover kept angrily cursing “motherf–ker” as he plunged the knife into the by-now-unconscious Comunale’s torso. He has said that while he and Rackover used steroids, that night they’d only taken cocaine and booze.
The disturbing testimony — delivered with an eerie flatness — was punctuated by soft sobs from Comunale’s family members and others who packed the gallery.
With Gemma gone, Dilione claims he and Rackover discussed disposing of the body. They were first going to dump the mangled remains in Brooklyn, but eventually settled on a marshy spot in Oceanport, NJ, where Dilione and Gemma grew up.
Rackover allegedly called down to have his adopted dad’s new Mercedes brought around, and then drove it to under his apartment window.
Meanwhile, Dilione testified, he was wrapping the body and propped it on the window ledge of the fourth-floor apartment until he saw Rackover pull up. Then, in the early morning light, he pushed the body out the window. It landed on the pavement, breaking Comunale’s pelvis.
They crammed the corpse into the trunk and drove to New Jersey.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Joseph Burke is expected to decide as early as Tuesday whether Dilione’s statements are admissible.
His lawyer has filed a motion to have them tossed, saying his client was questioned without a lawyer after asking for one.
A trial date has yet to be set.