Man found guilty in party stabbing murder inside Manhattan apartment

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, November 2, 2018
Man found guilty in party stabbing murder inside Manhattan apartment
Naveen Dhaliwal reports on the guilty verdict in the Upper East Side party stabbing murder.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The man accused in a deadly stabbing in an Upper East Side apartment was found guilty of all charges Friday, following a trial during which the victim's family was in the courtroom watching and crying through some of the testimony.

James Rackover was convicted of second-degree murder, concealing a human corpse and tampering with evidence, and he is the first to be convicted in the murder of 26-year-old Joey Comunale.

Rackover and Lawrence Dilione were accused of killing the Hofstra graduate in 2016, before burying him in a shallow grave in New Jersey.

Authorities say Comunale attended a party at Rackover's apartment on November 13, where police said he was stabbed 15 times in the chest during an argument.

Rackover and Dilione allegedly attempted to dismember Comunale and then threw his body out a window.

His father reported him missing the next day, and his body was found in a wooded area down the Jersey Shore in Oceanport two days later.

"I want to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, who we supported 100 percent from the very first day," said dad Patrick Comunale, as he and his wife fought back tears outside court. "I couldn't be more proud of the NYPD and what they did. I couldn't be more happy for...all of Joey's friends and everybody else who supported us over the last two years."

As testimony got underway, authorities revealed pictures of the shallow grave. Several of Comunale's relatives, including his parents, sobbed through the testimony given by investigators with the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, each picture revealing more of the body.

Rackover's defense attorney said in his opening statement that it was not his client but Dilone who was responsible for the murder. But prosecutors said Rackover showed a "monstrous indifference for human life."

Witnesses described a hard-partying night that included alcohol and cocaine. The most serious charge is second-degree murder, which means Rackover would spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Rackover is the surrogate son of celebrity jeweler Jeffrey Rackover, whose clients include Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Lopez.

Dilone will be tried early next year. A third man is also charged with helping in the cleanup effort but not the actual killing.

Click here for more stories about Joey Comunale's murder


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