Where is Lorraine Hatzakorzian's body?
According to Broward prosecutors, there are two people alive who know the answer to that question. Now one of them is promising to reveal the secret as part of a convoluted effort to get his plea deal thrown out.
Paul Trucchio was in court Wednesday to have Broward Circuit Judge Bernard Bober consider a series of motions related to his effort to back out of the deal that landed him in Florida State Prison for 30 years for the 2007 murder of Hatzakorzian.
Trucchio 40, pleaded no contest to second degree murder in January 2012. His co-defendant, Robert Mackey, was convicted the following year of accessory after the fact for helping Trucchio dispose of the body.
No one knows where the murder happened — New York (where they all lived), somewhere along the East Coast, another part of Florida, or in Broward County — but Hatzakorzian's head was found floating in a plastic bag in a canal off Alligator Alley at Mile Marker 35.7 on April 28, 2007.
In the absence of any other information about where the crime took place, the discovery of her head gave Broward prosecutors the authority to claim jurisdiction and prosecute the suspects, who were arrested in Volusia County in July 2007.
Trucchio's no contest plea came in January 2012 before Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes, just as lawyers were about to begin picking a jury. Since then, he has returned to court in Broward numerous times trying to revoke his plea.
Trucchio is arguing that he was off his psychiatric medication when he agreed to a 30-year sentence in exchange for his no contest plea, and that his lawyer at the time, Ed Hoeg, provided ineffective counsel.
"I was forced to plead guilty!" he said in a hand-written three-page motion. "How or why would Ed Hoeg advise me to plea to a crime [that] happened outside of Florida? And what sane person would do so?"
In a separate motion — to recuse Bober from considering his appeal — Trucchio again hinted that the murder took place outside of Florida's jurisdiction.
"Then it's on to my seven-year-old murder case, for which I am not guilty of, and can prove did not even happen in the state of Florida," he wrote.
But Trucchio's magnum opus is a motion for a Nelson hearing, arguing that Hoeg didn't do his job. That document, also tightly handwritten in all-capital letters, is 66 pages long.
Hoeg denied Trucchio's complaints.
Trucchio has also moved to disqualify the Broward State Attorney's Office and has run through six judges and a string of defense lawyers. The court most recently appointed George Reres to defend him, but both Trucchio and the lawyer himself now want him off the case.
Assistant State Attorney Scott Raft showed little patience for Trucchio's flurry of motions and refusal to accept responsibility for Hatzakorzian's death.
"He is abusing the process," said Raft, adding that Hatzakorzian's family will never get closure as long as Trucchio continues to be allowed to file "frivolous" appeals.
Reres said Wednesday that he believes Trucchio will ultimately disclose what he knows about what happened to the rest of the victim's body, but he conceded previous defense lawyers have expressed a similar belief.
If it's determined that the murder did not take place in Broward County, it's possible that Trucchio will be entitled to a new trial in the appropriate jurisdiction, prosecutors have said.
Reres also said there may be some merit to Trucchio's argument that Holmes should not have accepted his plea. During that hearing, Trucchio turned to Hatzakorzian's family in the courtroom gallery and said he was pleading guilty even though he was innocent, an indication that his plea was not sincere, Reres said.
Trucchio is due back in court for another hearing on his various motions Aug. 15.
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