A 39 year-old man from Philadelphia has admitted to bludgeoning his younger brother to death last year at Harrah’s Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, authorities said.
John A. Villante pleaded guilty on Thursday in an open plea to first-degree aggravated manslaughter, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said.
Villante faces 10 to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced on Oct. 26 before Presiding Superior Court Judge Bernard E. DeLury.
On May 28, 2019, at about 3:10 p.m., Harrah’s Hotel security was contacted in reference to a medical emergency in a room on the 11th floor of the hotel, Tyner said.
The victim, identified as 32 year-old Joseph Villante of Philadelphia, was rushed to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, according to Tyner.
Atlantic City Police responded and contacted the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit, kicking off a joint investigation.
An autopsy by the Southern Regional Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of death was due to multiple injuries -- including blunt force trauma to the head. The manner of death was determined to be homicide, Tyner said, but the prosecutor did not specify exactly how the brother was struck.
Investigators also found defensive wounds on the victim’s hands and lots of blood at the crime scene, Assistant Prosecutor Rick McKelvey previously told the judge.
When asked by Atlantic City police what happened, John Villante said his brother must have fallen in the shower, according to McKelvey.
The investigation led to the arrest of Joseph Villante’s older brother on May 30, 2019, without incident at his Philadelphia home with help from the Philadelphia Police Homicide Fugitive Squad and the Philadelphia Highway Patrol, according to Tyner.
John Villante is being held at the Atlantic County Justice Facility.
Anyone with information about serious crimes is urged to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-909-7800 or go to the Prosecutor’s Office Web site at http://www.acpo.org/tips.html and provide information by filling out the form anonymously on the Submit a Tip page.
Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those who commit crimes in Atlantic County.
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