Tuesday, May 08, 2012

iMurder next?

Experts foresee Web of horror
Say killing allegedly caught on video chat is future of law

By Matt Stout and Laurel J. Sweet
Tuesday, May 8, 2012



The shocking news that a Burlington mother’s stabbing death was watched by a stunned teen over a live iPad video chat opens new possibilities and difficult questions about Web evidence in a heavily plugged-in world, lawyers say.

“Welcome to the worst aspect of the 21st century: cyber horror and its progeny. This is just one more step in a horrible direction,” said defense attorney Jeffrey Denner.

Prosecutors dropped the bombshell yesterday at Christopher Piantedosi’s arraignment in Woburn District Court, saying a young friend of his 15-year-old daughter watched in horror — in real time over an iPad — as Piantedosi slashed longtime girlfriend Kristen Pulisciano to death Thursday, while waiting for the teen to return to her bedroom to continue their online chat.

“This is a very, very difficult case. And it wouldn’t surprise me if we see more of them. In this day and age of video chatting and Skyping, this is the next logical step,” said attorney William Korman, calling it an evolution of past cases of assaults that were captured on 911 tapes as victims pleaded over the phone for help.

“Obviously, the key question here is whether this data was saved on the electronic device or if the prosecution is going to rely on what the witness says they saw on a computer screen. There’s a big difference between the two,” Korman said. “As we all know, eyewitnesses can say they saw one thing, when they saw another. If they knew the alleged perpetrator, it’s a much more difficult case.”

Assistant Middlesex District Attorney Nicole Allain did not identify the teen’s friend or say whether investigators have captured forensic proof of what the witness claims to have viewed — an enraged Piantedosi, 39, throwing Pulisciano on her daughter’s bed and stabbing her 34 times. Piantedosi, who reportedly has a history of mental illness, pleaded not guilty. He was ordered held without bail, and ordered to have no contact with the couple’s daughter and 20-year-old son.

The teen’s friend, Allain said, watched via a live Internet video chat as Pulisciano ran into her daughter’s bedroom and tried to block the door. Piantedosi barged in and threw her to the bed, Allain said, as their daughter screamed for him to stop. Allain said Piantedosi, pinning Pulisciano to the bed, yelled, “You gotta die! You gotta die!” while Pulisciano cried out, “Chris, please stop. I love you.”

“And then the defendant began stabbing Kristen numerous times,” Allain said.

Police found Pulisciano’s body wedged between the blood-soaked bed and the wall, a knife protruding from her neck, Allain said.

The daughter had been drawn away from her room and her video chat by an argument. She went to the kitchen, where she saw her father surrender a knife to her mother. “What, are you trying to kill mom or something?” the daughter said, according to Allain. Piantedosi, she said, became irate, grabbed a butcher knife and followed Pulisciano down the hallway.

Police arrested Piantedosi Friday when he drove up to the Weston state police barracks. In his car, troopers found two notes detailing the murder, one saying, “I put knife on table. Continued talking. She grabbed to get it, I grabbed a bigger one,” according to Allain.

Piantedosi moved in with his parents in Methuen six weeks ago, said psychiatrist Jody Shapiro. She said Piantedosi attempted suicide by cutting his wrists on April 29, and was released from the hospital a day before the murder. She said he suffered from a long history of bipolar disorder.

matt.stout@bostonherald.com


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