The Medford man accused in a deadly home invasion in Bellport pleaded not guilty to an upgraded charge of first-degree murder in Riverhead Wednesday.
Robert Schiavo, 20, was initially charged with second-degree murder after police said he panicked while robbing the home where Nancy McKinley, 61, of Washington D.C., was staying with friends on March 8.
Suffolk prosecutor Janet Albertson said investigators had found the suspect's palm print on a jar of coins inside the home, as well as drops of Schiavo's blood on the floor. In court she also said Schiavo had confessed both orally and in writing to stabbing McKinley after he found her asleep in a downstairs bedroom.
The victim had "some of the worst defensive wounds I've ever seen," Albertson said outside court, describing how the slight woman had grabbed her attacker's blade, causing wounds on her fingers "that were right down to the tendon." McKinley was a retired librarian and wife of a diplomat.
Schiavo's lawyer, Steven Wilutis of Miller Place, said his client had no previous criminal record, and, though he was sorry for the McKinley family's loss, Schiavo had nothing to do with her death.