By Tom Momberg
A Bayside man who was indicted in 2012 in the murders of his mother and father is defending himself at his trial in Queens Supreme Court.
Gregory Cucchiara, 39, contended his mother’s death was accidental and that his father was killed by someone else, police said.
Now, he is pleading not guilty during the ongoing trial, which began Jan. 12, according to court records.
Cucchiara told Judge Kenneth Holder during pretrial hearings he would represent himself without his court-appointed attorney, Paul Franzese, according to court records.
Cucchiara stands charged with beating and drowning his mother Giusepina Cucchiara, 66, in May 2011, as well as smothering his father, Carmelo Cucchiara, 75, with a pillow in August 2012. In court, has insisted on defending himself, and hoped to prove a conspiracy to frame him during the trial.
According to the 2012 indictment of Gregory Cucciara, Carmelo Cucchiara discovered his wife’s body kneeling before the bathtub in the bathroom of their Bayside home at 215-46 28th St., with her head submerged underwater.
Gregory Cucchiara claimed he was around at the time of his mother’s death, and told cops he attempted to save her by carrying out CPR, according to the indictment. Blunt trauma to Giusepina Cucchiara’s head suggested her drowning was not accidental, and Carmelo Cucchiara accused their son of murdering her, the indictment said.
After his wife’s death, Carmelo Cucchiara moved to an Astoria apartment, while Gregory Cucchiara continued to live at the family’s Bayside home, according to the Queens district attorney.
Nearly 15 months later, Carmelo Cucchiara’s body was found in his Astoria apartment lying on a bed near a bloody pillow with cuts to his face, according to the criminal complaint originally filed by the Queens DA.
A witness told officers that Gregory and Carmelo Cucchiara could be heard arguing inside the apartment just hours before Carmelo’s body was discovered, the complaint said.
When he was questioned by police about the apparent murder of his father, Gregory Cucchiara attacked two officers, according to the complaint.
“(Cucchiara) caused physical injury to a police lieutenant, obstructed governmental administration and attempted to assault a police detective,” Queens DA Richard Brown said after Cucchiara was arrested.
The assault of the officers was excluded from the prosecution’s case in the murder trial, and Cucchiara was charged with those in a separate indictment, but he was scheduled for court appearances on the assault charges simultaneous with his trial.
The medical examiner found DNA of two individuals under the fingernails of both Carmelo and Giusepina Cucchiara—their own DNA and that of their son’s, according to the indictment.
Gregory Cucchiara has maintained he was framed for the murders of his parents. At the time of his indictment, Cucchiara told investigators his mother’s death was accidental and that he was not responsible for his father’s death, according to the complaint.
He had been arrested several times prior to his indictment for his parents’ murder—for assault, driving while intoxicated and for drug possession—according to the DA.
If convicted of the murders, Cucchiara faces 50 years to life in prison, the DA said when Cucchiara was charged.
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb