Accused Murderer Pleads Not Guilty; Faces Death Sentence

Christopher DiMeo, who is accused of the 2005 murder of a Connecticut couple in their Fairfield jewelry store, waived a probable cause hearing Thursday in a Bridgeport courtroom and pleaded not guilty, the Connecticut Post reports.

The newspaper also confirmed that State’s Attorney Jonathan Benedict will seek the death penalty for DiMeo.

DiMeo, 25, is already serving a life term in New York for the murder of a Long Island jeweler.

DiMeo was entitled to a probable cause hearing at which the state would have presented some of its evidence in the case, the newspaper reports. However, DiMeo’s lawyers, public defender Joseph Bruckmann and senior assistant public defender Ronald Gold, told Judge Richard Comerford Jr. their client had agreed to waive the hearing.

DiMeo then pleaded not guilty to capital felony, two counts of felony murder, two counts of murder, and one count each of first-degree robbery and criminal possession of a handgun. He elected to be tried before a jury, the newspaper reports. The judge continued the case to July 18.

Benedict later acknowledged he had told the Donnelly family and the defense lawyers he will seek the death penalty if DiMeo is convicted of the capital felony charge, the newspaper reorts.

DiMeo, a native of Glen Head, N.Y., is accused in the Feb. 2, 2005, killing of Tim and Kim Donnelly, the popular, longtime owners of Donnelly Jewelers, during a robbery in their store. According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Kim Donnelly was shot six times and her husband was shot five times, the newspaper reports.

Two days after the Fairfield murder, DiMeo and his girlfriend, Nicole Pearce, were arrested in an Atlantic City motel.

Authorities said the robbery and murder it was part of a three-month spree of robberies of at least four jewelry stores in New York and Connecticut with the help of Pearce and mother (Maryann Taylor-Casey of Hicksville) in order to feed their drug addictions. An estimated $300,000 worth of rings and bracelets was reportedly taken during four robberies. During that spree, DiMeo was accused of and later pled guilty to the Dec. 21, 2004, murder of Thomas Renison, 48, owner of J & J Jewels of Glen Cove, N.Y. He was given a life sentence. Pearce, who also pled guilty, was sentenced to 20 years for robbery.

After his sentencing in New York, DiMeo waged a yearlong legal battle to remain in that state, the newspaper reports.

Authorities reportedly said the gun DiMeo used to kill the Donnellys was the same one used to kill Renison at his store. The gun was reportedly found in DiMeo’s car.

Police said Pearce later admitted scouting out the Donnelly store for DiMeo the day before the murders, the newspaper reports. She is in custody at the York Correctional Institute in Niantic while awaiting trial in Bridgeport.