A Greenport man pleaded not guilty Thursday to an indictment that accuses him of strangling a friend last week in her home.
Jaime DeLeon Tino, 23, is charged with second-degree murder in the July 10 killing of Michelle Schiavoni, 27, also of Greenport. State Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro ordered DeLeon Tino held on bail of $1 million cash or $2 million bond.
Assistant District Attorney Beth Creighton said DeLeon Tino and Schiavoni were friends, but not a couple. Creighton said there was an argument, but she didn’t know its cause or how it ended up with DeLeon Tino’s hands around Schiavoni’s neck.
Creighton told Ambro that DeLeon Tino admitted what he had done to police. She said he told others he was going to flee the country, and when police arrested him later the same day in Riverhead, “he had a large sum of cash on him.”
DeLeon Tino is an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, said his attorney, Donald Mates Jr. of Hauppauge.
Mates questioned the validity of any statements his client made to police, claiming detectives violated DeLeon Tino’s constitutional right to remain silent.
“My client steadfastly maintains his innocence,” Mates said. “There are substantial questions about how these alleged confessions were obtained.”
His client expects to be exonerated, he said. He added that DeLeon Tino grieves the loss of his friend.
“It’s a sad situation, and that’s horribly understating it,” Mates said.
Schiavoni’s friends and family declined to comment as they left the Riverhead courtroom.