Anthony Comello, 25, the conspiracy theory believer accused of killing alleged Gambino family boss Francesco “Frank” Cali was in court on Thursday where a judge ruled his statements to police after the murder were admissible. Comello’s attorney had argued the statements should be thrown out because of Comello’s mental and physical state at the time of his confession.
Comello has given varying reasons for Cali’s murder, but eventually told his lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, that he was motivated to kill Cali because he believed the mob boss was part of “the deep state” and he wanted to eliminate him to help President Donald Trump. Comello says he is a believer in QAnon, a conspiracy theory that claims agents within the government are trying to oust Trump from office.
“He ardently believed that Francesco Cali, a boss in the Gambino crime family, was a prominent member of the deep state, and, accordingly, an appropriate target for a citizen’s arrest,” Gottleib wrote in court documents.
According to Gottleib, Comello was not in his right mental or physical state while police were questioning him during the interrogation that lasted three-and-a-half hours. According to the Staten Island Advance, Gottlieb told the court, “They knew he had HIV and takes medication. They knew it was violent vomiting. The pain is so severe that the questioning is tantamount to keeping him in a coercive environment against his will. It all adds up, not only the physical illness, but the paranoia that renders the statement involuntary. It is the totality of the circumstances.”
However, Comello did not help his case by refusing to cooperate with a state mental exam on Wednesday. “It appears to me he failed to cooperate,” the judge, Justice William E. Garnett, said.
Garnett also warned Comello that refusal to cooperate could have consequences, including not being able to mount a defense of insanity.
Comello responded that he was “perfectly fine with that.”
The judge then said he wants a mental evaluation of Comello from the prosecution and defense by January 3rd, 2020, saying, “At that time, I might make an appropriate order.”
Comello’s insanity defense has precedent, however. As Michael Perlin, a professor at New York Law School and specialist in mental disability law told the New York Times, “You’ve got a real, real tradition of insanity defense cases of very, very seriously mentally ill people who committed their crime out of some kind of utterly bizarre political motivation.”