One of two former Oakdale men accused of kidnapping a Mastic woman whose dismembered remains were found in a Florida canal in 2007 faces a 30-year prison sentence after pleading no contest in her slaying Wednesday, authorities said.
Even as he entered the plea to second-degree murder in a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., courtroom, Paul Trucchio, 38, insisted he was innocent in the death of Lorraine Hatzakorzian, 41.
Trucchio claimed in court he simply wanted to avoid a trial that was supposed to start Wednesday, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. He will get credit for time served since his arrest five years ago, the newspaper said.
The trial for Trucchio's alleged accomplice, Robert Mackey, is set for later this year.
Prosecutors say the pair killed Hatzakorzian and cut up her body with tree trimming equipment. Her remains were found in a canal off "Alligator Alley" a few months later.
Hatzakorzian, who had struggled with a crack cocaine addiction for several years, picked up a money order April 16, 2007, from a Waldbaum's supermarket and disappeared soon after with Mackey and Trucchio, both formerly of Oakdale and both with lengthy criminal histories, according to authorities and public records cited in a 2007 Newsday report.
Around five days later, the three left New York in Hatzakorzian's blue 1998 Dodge pickup truck. Although Hatzakorzian's mother told police she'd seen her daughter leave in the company of both men, Trucchio offered a cruder account to an inmate he shared a jail cell with, according to his arrest affidavit.
Trucchio claimed he used duct tape to kidnap her and drive in her truck with Mackey to Florida. Somewhere along the way, she got into a dispute with them and tried to flee. Mackey jumped into the bed of the truck and beat her up, Mackey told a man he'd stayed with at an inn in Port Orange, Fla., the affidavit states.
Mackey and Trucchio used pole saws and other tree-trimming equipment from Mackey's business to dismember her, the suspects told yet another roommate in Florida, the affidavit says. Investigators have said they believe the pair discarded her remains as they made their way south -- ultimately leaving her head in a plastic bag from the grocery chain where she'd gotten the money order, in the canal.
The suspects tried hard to destroy evidence: cleaning the car and cutting equipment with bleach and muriatic acid, and later discarding the truck's plate in a Volusia County bay, the affidavit says. When the witnesses they'd confessed to came forward in July, detectives recovered the plate, which was registered to the victim, authorities said.