By Rafiya Naqvi
RIVERSIDE – After several days of deliberation, a jury here late last week in Riverside County Superior Court found Timothy Condoluci—accused of fatally stabbing his brother in July of 2019—not guilty of first degree murder, but guilty of second degree murder. He has sentencing on Oct. 23.
The jury heard from Deputy District Attorney Josh DeGonia, who argued that there was evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Timothy Condoluci was guilty of first degree murder. The defendant was represented by Assistant Public Defender Michael John Micallef.
The two lawyers provided two competing accounts of what occurred last year when Timothy Condoluci was accused of stabbing and killing his 41-year-old brother Michael Condoluci in their family home near Hemet.
According to the defense, Timothy was running from a third person when he ran into his brother with a knife, while the prosecution contended that this was an intentional act.
Details of the incident were revisited by both the defense and prosecution.
According to witness testimony, Timothy was seen running with the knife while their longtime family friend claimed to have witnessed the defendant stab his brother in the armpit area.
Michael was allegedly holding nothing but a beer can and was shirtless and their mutual friend and witness was said to be holding a flashlight when he came outside to check on the brothers.
The crux of the case was determining whether this incident would fit under a 510 homicide, meaning the defendant is not guilty because they killed a person accidentally with no intention of committing this act or excusable homicide, a manslaughter of a person in a heat of passion.
Out of earshot of the jury, Judge James Hawkins said to opposing lawyers, “This is going to be very confusing for the jury. I’m relying on you folks to sort it out.”
On this note, the prosecutor expressed his frustration to Judge Hawkins regarding the defense’s inconsistent arguments surrounding whether the fatal stab was an “accident” or “self-defense” since he believed the two to be mutually exclusive.
“The defense can’t have it every which way but loose. They can’t sit there and just throw anything up at the wall and see what sticks. This is getting too convoluted and confusing. It’s misleading the jurors who need a roadmap to justice,” DeGonia stated.
During the trial, the prosecution argued in front of the judge and jury that Michael Condoluci was not stabbed in a “heat of passion” which would excuse him of the voluntary manslaughter charge. A “heat of passion,” according to DeGonia was more accurately represented by a spouse walking in on their spouse cheating which might lead them to commit an act of violence out of anger.
In response, the defense pointed to the violent altercation involving a glass between the brothers that occurred the morning of July 10 at the breakfast table, which may have contributed to Timothy’s emotional state later that day.
During this incident, Michael was said to have thrown a glass in Timothy’s direction.
As the trial progressed, further details surrounding the complicated relationship between the Condoluci brothers were revealed. The defense pointed to the fact that their mother stated during her testimony that the deceased, Michael Condoluci, was at times a “mean son of a b*tch.”
The defense also questioned the reliability of the testimony that was given by the witness, the brothers’ longtime friend, claiming he had a bias toward Michael while the prosecution asserted that there was no bias, given that the witness could have provided even more incriminating details but he refrained from doing so because he was impartial to the brothers.
The prosecution deemed him the “one person who showed true emotion and compassion for the life Michael lived in Condoluci their testimony.”
The motive behind the murder, according to DeGonia, was that he constantly was being “ridden on” by his brother for his lack of contribution to rent and utilities which led him to “get rid of the problem.”
The prosecution also pointed to the statement given by the defendant’s mother to the police on the day of the fatal incident where she had stated that he was usually the aggressor and that Timothy had threatened Michael with knives on previous occasions.
In contrast, Micallef characterized Michael as the more intimidating threat and a “man of will” who relentlessly oppressed his brother and did not need any weapon to harass him while Timothy sought to defend himself with a knife.
According to the defense, Michael exhibited this oppressive behavior when he had coerced his brother into living out of a trailer, moved all of his stuff into the trailer and took it upon himself to tow the trailer, which contributed to Timothy’s resentment toward him.
The defense proceeded to voice the narrative that Michael had exhibited violent tendencies in the past by using a mason jar, glass pint, and a metal chair as a weapon, which is why the beer can he was holding during the time of the incident could be considered a weapon.
On proving that the crime was a conscious decision, the prosecution emphasized that the location of the injury and amount of pressure applied would suggest that it was intentional, considering the fact that Michael was taller than Timothy and yet it hit the “perfect artery, killing him.”
Moreover, the prosecution attempted to persuade the jury that this was a display of negligence on the defendant’s part, since most people are taught from a young age not to run with a sharp object—the judge previously disagreed and posed that Condoluci might have assumed no one was there while he was running with the knife.
In his closing statements, DeGonia urged the jury not to buy the “unreasonable” argument that this was a crime of passion or an accident, and insisted that it was “willful” and “deliberate.”
Defense attorney Micallef reiterated again that the defendant was not guilty of first degree murder and manslaughter based on the “law” and “the facts of this case.”
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