May 8, 2013 |
The former janitor at an Upper West Side assisted living home is facing life without parole after a jury convicted him today of brutally beating and strangling a 95-year-old man who lived at the home.
Jurors were asked to literally connect the dots to convict crack-addled Wilfred Matthews of the slaying of WWII Coast Guard veteran Peter Lisi. Investigators had found drops of the victim's blood on the right sleeve of Matthews flannel jacket in his locker at the Williams Home on West End Avenue.
"It's the defendant's jacket. It's Mr. Lisi's blood. And it's in exactly the right place," assistant district attorney Matthew Bogdanos told jurors in closing statements yesterday, noting that the elderly victim bore the signs of having been strangled in a right-handed choke hold.
Then there was the blood that was not there. When murderous Lady Macbeth cried "Out, damned spot" as she scrubbed away at imaginary blood, "it's obviously a metaphor for the guilt," the prosecutor told jurors.
"In this case, the defendant's actions are not a metaphor," he said of Matthews, who was captured on surveillance video stripping and scrubbing his arms in a basement utility sink, "We don't need to ask ourselves why he was washing up, because we know where he was," the prosecutor said.
Matthews was further linked to the crime by his having a master key to all the residence's rooms, by what his friends described as his increasingly "frantic" requests for money, and by the victim's metro card, which he'd been using to commute from the Upper West Side to East New York.
Detective Mark Worthington of Manhattan North Homicide -- a former transit cop -- cracked the case. On the good hunch that Lisi, like many other seniors, had a Metrocard, Worthington discovered that Lisi's card was still in use, and caught Matthews by painstakingly staking out the 96th Street subway station.
It took the jury less than half a day for jurors to convict Matthews of the 2011 murder; Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Gregory Carro set June 3 for sentencing.
“This defendant’s actions brought a brutal end to Peter Lisi’s 95 years,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. said in a written statement. “I hope that this verdict brings some measure of closure to the victim’s many loved ones, and a sense of safety to Mr. Lisi’s neighbors. I thank the members of the jury for their service in this case.”