28 years to life sentence for convicted killer in Upper East Side party stabbing murder

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, December 6, 2018
Maximum sentence for convicted killer in party stabbing murder
Rob Nelson reports on the sentencing of James Rackover in an Upper East Side murder.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The man found guilty in a deadly stabbing of a 26-year-old in an Upper East Side apartment will serve 28 and 2/3 years to life, the maximum permitted by state law.

James Rackover, 27, was convicted last month of second-degree murder, concealing a human corpse and tampering with evidence, and he is the first to be convicted in the murder of 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 said 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 at the Jersey Shore in Oceanport two days later.

"James Rackover committed a brutal and unconscionable crime when he killed Joey Comunale and abandoned him at a makeshift gravesite in New Jersey," said District Attorney Cyrus Vance. "The judge's sentence of 28 and 2/3 years to life in prison was the only appropriate sentence to address the pain and loss that Joey's murder inflicted on the Comunale family."

After the sentencing, the victim's emotional parents said they are grateful that it will be at least nearly three decades before their son's murderer will be a free man.

"I think it sends a message to the other two defendants that their involvement, and how they worked in concert, I think the judge made the right decisions," Patrick Comunale said.

The victim's father told the court that his son was everything and all three of the suspects in his death are cowards who have shown no remorse.

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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