UPDATE:

September 20, 2008.  Richard Diguglielmo's conviction has been thrown out, and he has been released from prison.  District Attorney Janet DiFiore says she will appeal. 

UPDATE:
 

Nov. 29, 2004.  When jurors convicted Richard Diguglielmo of "depraved murder" and acquitted him of "intentional murder", they thought they were cutting him a break.  After all, he shot Charles Campbell after Campbell began beating Diguglielmo's father with an aluminum baseball bat, and jurors could understand how a person would feel -- and react -- in such a situation.  But the jurors were fooled.  "Depraved murder" carries the same sentence as "intentional murder".  Richard was sentenced to 20 years to life for defending his father.

A New York State Court of Appeals decision tossing out a similarly obtained Long Island conviction and setting the defendant free offers new hope for Richard and others.  Appeals Ruling Casts Shadow on Murder Convictions

White Plains CitizeNet Reporter

WPCNR MAIN STREET JOURNAL.
By John F. Bailey.
November 13, 2003


An orderly, quiet, relentless squad of supporters of convicted New York Transit Police officer Richard Diguglielmo, currently in prison in the seventh year of a 20-year to life term for the killing of Charles Campbell in the parking lot of his father’s deli, picketed District Attorney Jeanine Pirro’s private book-signing party for her law enforcement colleagues at Vintage on Main Street in White Plains Wednesday evening.

One of the sign-carriers was Rosemarie Diguglielmo, the former police officer’s mother, who said her group was continuing to picket Mrs. Pirro’s book publicity stops because the District Attorney's book, To Punish and Protect, (that many of her employees inside were purchasing),  distorts the circumstances of the shooting. It was the third such Pirro publicity tour that the “PirroBusters” have picketed. 

"Pirro Busters" protest omissions of facts from DA Jeanine Pirro's book, To Punish and Protect

 

In Mrs. Pirro’s book, To Punish and Protect, Mrs. Pirro and her collaborator write that Charles Campbell whom officer DiGuglielmo shot to death, after Campbell, (having being wrestled to the ground by officer DiGuglielmo and his brother-in-law and then let up), went to the trunk of his illegally parked car and removed a baseball bat from the trunk of his car to defend himself.

 

The Pirro book does not disclose to the reader that Mr. Campbell proceeded to hit the father with a bat before Mr. DiGuglielmo shot him. The Pirro book, in addition does not disclose Mr. Campbell’s arrests and convictions in the early 80s, which included arrests for assault and credit card fraud.


A MOTHER'S MISSION: DiGuglielmo’s mother, Rosemarie DiGuglielmo was on the picketline. WPCNR asked how her son, the police officer was holding up in prison:   “He’s a strong man, He’s strong in his conviction. He knows what he did was right. He knows that was the only the only thing he could have done. Could he stand there and watch his father’s head be blown off? The first blow (with the bat) was to his father's leg and the scars are still on his leg from that blow.  He (Campbell) then broke his hand (with the bat). All I can say is I wish someone would go and interview my son.” Photo by WPCNR News.


Rather than disclose Mr. Campbell’s tendency to violent confrontation in the past, the book paints a glowing portrait of an exemplary young man, with endorsements of his character. Protesters carried signs disclosing Mr. Campbell’s prior arrest record, and accusing The Journal News of trying Mr. Diguglielmo in the press.

 

Ms. Diguglielmo says Ms. Pirro’s book distorts the facts of the shooting.

 

Ms. Diguglielmo said this portrayal in the book omits the fact testified to in court that Mr. Campbell attacked her husband with the bat, hitting  him twice, which is the basis for the group continuing to protest the book. It appears the publisher of the book, St. Martin’s Press, failed to fact-check the court transcripts  of the case. 

 

Ms. DiGuglielmo recalls the trial vividly, saying a witness at the trial testified, “Could he stand there and watch his father’s head be blown off as one of the people testified in the trial,  I thought he was going to smash his head like a watermelon.”


Mrs. Diguglielmo also said her husband, Richard’s father, was not a robust 53-year old man at the time Campbell attacked him (for placing a sticker on Mr. Campbell’s Corvette), as Mrs. Pirro’s book describes him.

 

She said he had had a heart attack prior to the incident, and this was why his son and son-in-law had made it a practice of dropping by the deli to pick up their father, and why they were there that fateful day. She said her husband has had two heart attacks since the fatal shooting. 

The mother speaking strongly and without emotion, accused Pirro of trying the case in the press and accusing the family and her son Richard of being rascist.

 

She pointed out that her son had patrolled the Bronx for ten years and was not racist in any way.


The Diguglielmo conviction is now on its third appeal. The first appeal was dismissed by the Appellate Court in Brooklyn, the same court that did not disbar Ms. Pirro’s husband, Albert Pirro, when he was convicted for tax evasion, and gave him a three-year suspension from practicing law instead.  The New York State Court of Appeals refused to hear the case. The Federal District Judge in White Plains said that "while another judge might rule differently, ( Judge Peter Leavitt’s charge to the jury referring to a legal situation that had been off the books for 35 years), I think it was harmless error.”

 

According to a law analyst familiar with the case, the basis for Officer DiGuglielmo’s appeal rests on the actions of Judge Peter Leavitt, who, after the defense had rested, allowed two things: Ms. Pirro’s prosecution sensing they were not going to get a conviction, as he puts it,  “switched horses in midstream”  asking for a conviction of Richard DiGuglielmo based on depraved indifference to children in the area near the deli.

 

Judge Leavitt also appeared to give the jury a way to convict DiGuglielmo. He, our source says  “dredged up an element of self defense that was specifically knocked out and eliminated years ago. He advised the jury of the notion that the shooter, the person has to know which of the two involved in the fracas instigated it. This legal interpretation was thrown out by the state legislature 35 years ago. “

 

 Our analyst goes on: “Those are two clear indications that Richard DiGuglielmo’s rights were violated and yet they’ve gone on now for 7 years on appeals. The two rights violated are the right of notice and the right of defense.

The Federal court heard it…the first time he said you haven’t exhausted all your state remedies, and now finally it’s going to the second circuit court of appeals.

It’s now a question will the judges who hear it be influenced by Jeanine like all the others.”

 

White Plains Police Commissioner, Dr. Frank Straub, and Deputy Commissioner David Chong, apparently strolling back to Police Headquarters down the street, advised the pickets that they had to keep moving and not block the entrance to Vintage, because they did not have a permit to conduct a demonstration. The pickets obeyed that instruction. The protest continued until 7:30 P.M.


As to Officer DiGuglielmo’s appeal, The District Attorney’s office has until December 1 to respond to papers at the Federal Court of Appeals, Second Circuit in the latest appeal of Officer DiGuglielmo’s conviction.

 

WPCNR attempted to enter Vintage to see how the signing was going and take a picture of Ms. Pirro signing books. A young woman in a tanned suit said I could not go in. I asked her to relay to Ms. Pirro my request to photograph Ms. Pirro. I was told to wait a few minutes. Five minutes later I asked a man in a black suit, apparently guarding the entrance to Vintage about my request and was told, “No. No pictures at this time.”

 

The booksigning party, apparently not open to the public, sent out invitations to employees of the District Attorney's office and other law enforcement agencies throughout the county. Many could be seen emerging with a copy of the Pirro book in hand, leaving the restaurant.


Innocent Imprisoned
Truth in Justice