A 91-year-old man accused of murdering his 67-year-old stepdaughter in San Jose last year has died in jail, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.
Police arrested Anthony Aiello in 2018 after an autopsy, security footage, blood and DNA evidence indicated that he staged Karen Navarra’s death to look like a suicide. An analysis of her FitBit confirmed the approximate time of her demise.
Navarra’s body was found on Sept. 13, 2018—two days shy of a year ago—by a co-worker who stopped by her house after she missed work at the Regional Medical Center pharmacy, according to the DA officials.
Investigators say Aiello placed a knife in Navarra’s hand to make it look like she took her own life. Evidence indicated that she actually died from head injuries inflicted by a heavier weapon, authorities say.
When police presented Aiello with their discovery, which contradicted his version of events, he reportedly repeated the phrase “I’m done” over and over again.
A criminal grand jury indicted Aiello on Aug. 7 this year.
Prosecutors will now dismiss the charges against Aiello, which is the usual protocol when a defendant dies. “The case is over, but our thoughts remain with Ms. Navarro,” DA Chief Trial Deputy Angela Bernhard said in a news release Wednesday.
Aiello’s daughter, Annette Aiello, however, says she believes her father was innocent.
“Our family is devastated by his death and disillusioned by the judicial system,” she said. “We hold the San Jose Police Department that wrongfully arrested him, the District Attorney’s Office that fought for his detention, the judge that denied his bail, and the sheriff and the jail custody health administrators—responsible for the death of an innocent man. My father’s death doesn’t end the suffering and his prophecy that they were waiting for him to die so he would be denied his day in court has been proven true. My father was killed by pretrial incarceration.”
Innocent or guilty, it’s a sad state of society when we jail a 91 year old man, especially without a conviction, and he dies alone in a cage locked by all of us. https://t.co/kpHMUDqh5g
— Sajid A. Khan (@thesajidakhan) September 12, 2019