A son who authorities said brought a loaded revolver to his parents' Hewlett Harbor home on Christmas before allegedly shooting them during a dispute over the custody of his 2-year-old son pleaded not guilty Monday to trying to kill them both.
Dino Tomassetti, 30, of Brooklyn, entered his plea in Nassau County Court after a grand jury indicted him on two counts of attempted murder, along with felony assault and weapon charges and misdemeanor child endangerment.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Terence Murphy remanded Tomassetti back into Nassau jail custody as the defendant's parents and his son's mother watched from the other side of a Mineola courtroom.
Defense attorney William Petrillo told the judge Tomassetti's parents and the 2-year-old's mother, Tomassetti's ex-girlfriend, supported the defendant "100%." The Garden City lawyer added that while he wouldn't discuss then what had happened in the home, the defense might request bail for Tomassetti in the future.
The defendant's parents and ex-girlfriend left court without commenting. Tomassetti is barred from any contact with them and his son, according to orders of protection Murphy issued Monday.
"It would be irresponsible to comment on what did and did not happen that morning. What’s important is that Dino never intended to hurt anyone," Petrillo said in a statement later.
The attorney told reporters it was "a very emotional day for this entire family" and that Tomassetti's parents and ex-girlfriend didn't want protective orders because "they are not afraid of Dino." Petrillo added that he and fellow defense attorney Edward Sapone were "very confident in a favorable outcome for him in this case."
Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly said in a statement that Tomassetti's parents had "made remarkable strides in their recovery and are lucky to be alive today." She also said the "peace and joy" that traditionally mark a holiday morning "was shattered" when Tomassetti allegedly shot his parents.
Police said they found 64-year-old Vincenza Tomassetti shot in the head and 65-year-old Rocco Tomassetti shot in the back after they responded to the Seawane Drive residence shortly after 10 a.m. on Dec. 25 for a reported disturbance.
The child's mother called police after Tomassetti began arguing with her and his mother about the 2-year-old's custody before Tomassetti pulled out a revolver and shot his mother, prosecutor Tracy Keeton said in court Monday.
Police have said an argument that also involved Tomassetti's father escalated when Tomassetti allegedly tried to leave the home with the toddler and his parents, who were caring for their grandchild, objected. After shooting his mother, Tomassetti shot his father in the back as his father was leaning over his mother, according to Keeton.
Father and son then struggled over the gun and the defendant shot his father in the wrist before beating him in the head with the weapon after he ran out of bullets, dropping the gun and fleeing, authorities said. First responders took the gunshot victims to Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital, where they underwent surgery before being released.
Authorities said Tomassetti, who had no prior criminal record, escaped in his Cadillac Escalade before his arrest later that day in Mahwah, New Jersey. The defendant didn't have a license for the .22-caliber gun and has been at Nassau's jail since Dec. 29 after waiving an extradition hearing in New Jersey, according to law enforcement officials.
State records show Rocco Tomassetti is the CEO of Empire Transit Mix Inc., a Brooklyn-based concrete supply company. The defendant has worked for his father's business and also as a physical trainer, according to Petrillo. He said the 2-year-old's mother has the child now.