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Detective: Woman accused in mom's killing said she was home on day of assault

Ralph Keppler and Francesca Kiel.

Ralph Keppler and Francesca Kiel. Credit: NCPD

The woman accused of teaming up with her boyfriend to kill her mother told police after the deadly beating in Long Beach that she’d been home  nearly all day with him watching football and wrapping gifts, according to court testimony.

Francesca Kiel, 22, and Ralph Keppler, 29, appeared Monday in Nassau County Court as their attorneys sought to suppress statements each murder defendant allegedly made to police after the assault on victim Theresa Kiel, 56. 

Authorities said the former Malverne teacher was in a vegetative state after the attack in her apartment complex at 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2016, before she died in November 2018.

Keppler had filed a lawsuit before the attack claiming he and his family gave Theresa Kiel and her adult son Vincent  money  to develop a dating app, but she wasted it.

Prosecutors claim Keppler used a metal pipe to attack the victim in an assault motivated by a business dispute. They’ve also alleged the daughter put a GPS device on the mother's  car to track her and called a cab to pick up Keppler after the attack. Both defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Long Beach Police Det. Lt. Stefan Chernaski testified Monday that the victim’s family raised concerns after the attack that her daughter was in an “oppressive” relationship  and might be in danger.

“We want to make sure you’re OK,” Chernaski recalled telling Francesca Kiel after police encountered her and Keppler outside their Lynbrook home at about 1:45 a.m.  the next day.

He said he also told the woman about her mother’s serious injury, adding: “She didn’t ask for details of the injury or those events. She said that she’d been home all day watching football and wrapping presents.”

The police official testified further that Francesca Kiel told him Keppler had been with her but had “gone out briefly with his grandfather to buy lottery tickets.”

The young woman also pointed to her New York Giants sweatpants and said she’d been watching that team, according to Chernaski.

“I said ‘Didn’t the Giants play on Thursday?’ And then she said ‘Oh, I wasn’t really watching. I was more wrapping presents and the TV was on in the background. But I am a Patriots fan. I really like Tom Brady,’ ” he recalled.

Both NFL teams played games Dec. 4, 2016, according to their websites.

Chernaski also testified Francesca Kiel said she had an order of protection against her mother.

Francesca Kiel’s attorney, Geoffrey Prime, told Acting State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Quinn that his client’s alleged statements outside the house were “clearly involuntary.”

Prime pointed to testimony that three of the police officials who came to the house were in tactical gear and carrying rifles, and that Keppler was handcuffed nearby.

“It’s obvious that the police and the detectives in this case were not interested in Miss Kiel’s well-being. They were interested in investigating the attack,” he said.

Keppler’s attorney, Marc Gann, also asked Quinn to toss his client’s alleged statement at the time of his murder arrest that Vincent Kiel “caused all of this” by taking money from Keppler and others.

But prosecutor Stefanie Palma argued both defendants spoke voluntarily.

Quinn will make a ruling July 11.

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