A Long Island man has been convicted in the brutal machete killing of a 73-year-old grandmother during a home invasion.
On Sept. 13, 2017, Benjamin Lopez, age 27, of Levittown, and a co-defendant, Deangelo Gill, broke into a home on Newbridge Road in Levittown seeking revenge on the resident, Mark Depperman, and planning to steal his marijuana and money, according to the charges by Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly said.
Once inside the home, they encountered 73-year-old Laraine Pizzichemi, Depperman’s grandmother. Lopez then hacked Pizzichemi to death with a machete and Lopez and Gill went through the home looking for money and drugs.
Depperman returned home while Gill and Lopez were still inside. The defendants began beating up Depperman and Lopez slashed at Depperman’s arms with the machete, causing serious physical injuries, the DA's charges added.
Lopez also threatened Depperman with a handgun, demanding money from a safe. Depperman complied, and the defendants took cash and marijuana.
Depperman was able to call 911 before the phone was taken from his hand and broken on the ground. The call went through, and police responded. Lopez and Gill fled out the back door to Lopez’s house around the corner from the victim’s home when police arrived.
Lopez and Gill were both arrested by members of the Nassau County Police Department while trying to flee Lopez’s home in a car.
Lopez was convicted Thursday, June 30 after a jury trial of:
- First-degree murder (an A-I felony),
- Second-degree murder (an A-I felony),
- Two counts of first-degree robbery (a Class B violent felony),
- Two counts of first-degree burglary (a Class B violent felony),
- Two counts of first-degree assault (a Class B violent felony);
- Second-degree robbery (a Class C violent felony);
- Third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a Class D felony),
- Criminal possession of a firearm (a Class E felony).
He faces a maximum of life in prison without parole when he is sentenced on September 13, 2022.
“Laraine Pizzichemi’s life was horrifically extinguished when Benjamin Lopez hacked and slashed her repeatedly with a machete for simply being present as he and Deangelo Gill robbed her grandson,” said DA Donnelly. “Pizzichemi was slight and frail, having undergone chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, and unable to fight for her life against the vicious attack. For this ruthless crime, Lopez will likely spend the rest of his life in a prison cell. I thank the jury for their verdict, ensuring justice for Laraine Pizzichemi and her family.”
Gill previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and was sentenced on Dec. 4, 2019, to 17 years to life in prison.
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