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Defense witness testifies about prior seizure in Robert Waters murder trial

Opening statements began Dec. 3, 2014, in the

Opening statements began Dec. 3, 2014, in the bench trial of Robert Waters, 24, of Centereach, who is charged in the June 2011 death of Florence Troiani, his fiancee's grandmother. He is charged with second-degree murder. Credit: Suffolk County Sheriff

A Centereach man charged with killing his fiancee's grandmother flew into a rage months earlier, rambling incoherently and attacking a close friend before police and others subdued him, a defense witness testified Wednesday.

Ronald Fedorka, 26, of Centereach said he and his wife drove frantically to Robert Waters' home nearby in December 2010 after a frantic call from Waters' fiancee, Denise Razzano, during an online video game.

"There is something wrong with him. He's attacking me. He doesn't know who I am," Razzano yelled as she ran out of the home with Waters chasing, Fedorka testified.

Waters swung at Fedorka at the door but missed and they wrestled, Fedorka said. "He was yelling, sweating. I just never seen him . . . act like that before," Fedorka said before state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho, who is trying the case in Central Islip without a jury.

In opening remarks, defense lawyer Anthony La Pinta said Waters killed his fiancee's grandmother while suffering from a "diminished capacity" in the latter part of a seizure brought on and magnified by a recent withdrawal from the anti-anxiety medication Xanax.

The defense is asking for a verdict of not guilty by reason of mental defect.

La Pinta said Waters did not recall the first violent episode was in December, in which he destroyed the house. The second episode was June 21, 2011, he said.

Police said that night Waters, 24, who is charged with second-degree murder, brutally beat and killed his fiancee's 90-year-old grandmother, Florence Troiani. She suffered six broken bones in her back and a 2 1/2-inch rip in her heart, the Suffolk County medical examiner said.

Waters trashed the house and was uncontrollable, La Pinta said. "That path of rage brought him to Florence Troiani's bedroom, where he killed her."

La Pinta argued Waters had a blockage in a major brain artery at birth and suffered a head-on collision in 2007 that caused a "brain bleed." Both made him susceptible to seizures, La Pinta said later.

Waters' father, Val Stauder, testified he went to Waters' home after Razzano called him the night of the killing. He said his son was outside bloody, sweating and incoherent.

"He couldn't put a sentence together, like gibberish came out," Stauder testified.

During cross-examination from Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock, Fedorka testified that Troiani and Waters, who lived with Razzano, appeared to get along.

He said Waters helped cooked, did her laundry and treated her "as if it was his own grandmother."

Kurtzrock asked Fedorka if he knew that in June 2006, Waters' mother had called police because Waters had "shoved his own grandmother . . . over a table." Fedorka said he had not. La Pinta objected, and the judge ruled the incident was not in evidence.

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