A Lynbrook woman whose teenage daughter was raped and murdered in 1984 said Wednesday she hoped the three men suing Nassau County for malicious prosecution in the case are not awarded damages by a jury in a civil trial.
"I would find it very uncomfortable paying Nassau County property taxes that they would get part of," Concetta Napoli, 70, said as she left the civil trial in federal court in Central Islip. She commented shortly after the jury ended deliberations for the day, and the case was adjourned for the long holiday weekend.
The three former Lynbrook men spent 18 years in prison for the crime, and sued the county after DNA testing in 2003 showed sperm in the victim's body was not linked to any of them.
Napoli, who has divorced and now uses her maiden name, said she has never truly come to grips with the death of her daughter, Theresa Fusco, 16, as the court cases dragged out over the years.
John Kogut, 22 at the time of his arrest, Dennis Halstead, then 27, and John Restivo, 31, were convicted in two separate trials, and lost most of the appeals. But the DNA evidence resulted in a new trial for Kogut and he was acquitted in 2005. Prosecutors decided they did not have enough credible evidence against Restivo and Halstead and dropped charges.
"It is very, very difficult," Napoli said as she leaned on a walker outside court.
She said the Thanksgiving holiday did not add to her burden because some of the criminal cases had dragged through the holiday season.Napoli said she had "no clue" how the civil suit might turn out because she was barred from entering the courtroom during much of the two-month trial because she might be called back to the witness stand after testifying in September.
The three are seeking $190 million in damages from Nassau County and the police officials who oversaw the case. They alleged that a confession by Kogut was false and coerced by police and that detectives planted evidence.