YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A judge in Hackensack today again denied a defense lawyer’s request for a reduction of the $2 million bail on a 65-year-old city man charged with beating his wife to death with a cane in their home.
Frank Lucianna entered a not-guilty plea on behalf of Thomas Fabbricatore during his arraignment on an August grand jury indictment charging him with first-degree murder in connection with what authorities said was an assault last Nov. 12 that sent his wife, Elizabeth, to the hospital, where she died six days later.
The Viet Nam War veteran has contended that his wife fell and hit her head as they were pushing one another during an argument.
Fabbricatore was brought into court today with his hair groomed, his beard shaved and his handlebar mustache trimmed, in contrast to previous appearances (see photos). He was also more relaxed — smiling, even — as he spoke with his attorneys.
In his 64 years of practicing law, the 90-something Lucianna told Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi, he’d never seen bail so unfairly high.
He also noted that the judge had lowered bail for another murder defendant recently.
That didn’t matter, DeAvila-Silebi said.
“I see you nodding your head,” the judge told Fabbricatore. “Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, because the circumstances of every case are different.”
“I’m going to change your mind on this bail,” Lucianna told DeAvila-Silebi. “I have changed your mind on occasion.”
“You have,” the judge responded. “Your next date is Dec. 8, and you can make your motion for bail then, along with any other motions. This case is going to trial early next year, so be ready.”
The grand jury also charged Fabbricatore with two counts of weapons possession for the cane, which the grand jury said he “used unlawfully against another” under “circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful use.”
The indictment also accuses him of lying to police.
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer, who is trying the case, previously noted that Fabbricatore “habitually stalked his wife” and was reported seen in March 2013 “dragging her across the yard by the hair.”
He also beat her several times and threatened to kill not only her but her mother and goddaughter if she told anyone, Grootenboer said.
Hackensack police said they went to the Fabbricatore residence on an anonymous welfare check and found 58-year-old Elizabeth Fabbricatore unconscious and bleeding from a head wound.
Elizabeth Fabbricatore, who worked for North Jersey Media Group (which publishes the Bergen Record), later underwent surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center before dying days later.
Fabbricatore was initially charged with aggravated assault and ordered held on the $2 million bail. The charges were upgraded to murder after his wife died.