Photos of a bloody crime scene and a videotaped interrogation were shown in court on the first day of Matthew Taranto's murder trial. The 29-year-old is accused of shooting his father. Tamara Lindstrom was in the courtroom and has more on the case.
TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. -- There is little dispute over how Sal Taranto was killed the night of November 30th, 2010. His son, then 28-year-old Matthew Taranto, shot him seven times in the chest and torso.
The elder Taranto, a former Nassau County police officer, had been watching a movie in the basement of their Trumansburg home. Matthew's mother was out of town. After the shooting, Sal Taranto crawled to a neighbor's house, begging for help before he died.
During opening statements Tuesday, Taranto's attorney said it was years of cruelty and abuse, combined with Asperger's syndrome and other disabilities that led his client to fear for his life and that he acted in self defense. However, the prosecution said it's not their job to prove Sal Taranto was worthy or unworthy of life.
The prosecution played a 911 recording from that night. The victim could be heard pleading for help, saying he couldn't breathe and he was dying. A recording that appeared to upset the defendant.
Prosecutors showed photos of the crime scene with a trail of blood leading from the basement out the front door, as well as a nearly three hour long videotape of Taranto's interrogation.
Sitting chained with hands and feet still taped into evidence bags, Taranto described how his father had grabbed him by the throat and threatened him with a knife and a gun for not cleaning up after dinner.
The defendant said he later got the gun from his father's closet where the victim had left it, went downstairs and shot him, saying, "I was in fear of my life tonight. It was only a matter of time."
An assertion the investigators said they didn't believe.
Throughout the interrogation, Taranto repeatedly brought up his close relationship with his mother and described abuse at the hands of his father, saying that night it was "kill or be killed." A defense that will be left for the judge to weigh.
The defendant waived his right to a jury trial. His attorney said it was because this is a highly legal case, based on "why" and not "how" Sal Taranto was killed.
The prosecution continues with their case Wednesday.