Man convicted in ‘Grid Kid’ slaying finally confesses

By Gabrielle Fonrouge and Lia Eustachewich
New York Post

The Brooklyn man convicted of helping to kill Connecticut college football star Mark Fisher has finally confessed to the 2003 slaying, according to a report.

The admission by “Grid Kid” killer co-defendant Antonio Russo was made to detectives during a jailhouse interview March 22, the Daily Beast said.

Russo, who had maintained his innocence at trial, was being re-interviewed as prosecutors try to mount a new case against his accused partner, John Giuca, whose murder conviction was recently overturned.

Russo didn’t implicate Giuca in the slaying when talking to investigators last month, according to the Web site.

But he also didn’t clear the now-34-year-old, who remains locked up at Rikers pending his retrial.

Russo and Giuca were found guilty at separate 2005 trials in Fisher’s shooting death, with prosecutors claiming that Giuca gave Russo the orders — and gun — to kill the 19-year-old Fairfield University football player.

Witnesses said Russo had confessed to them that he murdered Fisher. Another witness, John Avitto, claimed that Giuca confessed to his alleged role in the shooting while both men were behind bars but recanted that testimony years later.

Russo, in his hourlong interview with detectives, said the German Luger 9mm handgun he used to kill Fisher “was his,” though he “couldn’t say” where he got the weapon or how long he owned it, according to the investigators’ notes obtained by the Web site.

Russo recounted the night of Oct. 12, 2003, saying he and Fisher were partying at Giuca’s home in Ditmas Park when Fisher fell asleep. Fisher had come back to the house with new acquaintances from a bar.

“Russo didn’t want Giuca’s mother to come home and get mad because there was an unknown guy in the house,” the notes said.

So Russo said he gave Fisher a sheet to cover up and led him outside through a rear door.

As the two walked along Argyle Road, Russo took out the handgun from his waistband and pointed it at Fisher.

“He took Fisher’s wallet and told Fisher to run,” the notes said. “Russo fired one shot into the ground to let Fisher know it was a real gun. Russo then fired a shot at Fisher, and Fisher fell to the ground.”

Fisher asked Russo why he shot him, at which point, “Russo fired the rest of the bullets from the gun at Fisher, killing him,” according to the notes.

Suggested motives for the shooting over the years have involved everything from an alleged love rivalry to robbery to simply street-gang bravado — or all three.

Russo told detectives there were 16 shots in the gun and that he fired them all.

He also said that there was a “woman in a car” at Albemarle Road “who looked at Russo and could identify him.”

But Russo’s confession contains discrepancies. Fisher was shot five times with a .22-caliber – not a .9mm – gun, which was never found though two shell casings were left at the scene. And no residents reported hearing the 16 shots Russo claimed to have fired.

The Brooklyn DA’s Office declined to comment, as Giuca’s case is pending.

But a law-enforcement source Tuesday noted, “This is nothing new. Prosecutors have always maintained that Russo was the shooter and Giuca was acting in concert with him.”

Giuca’s lawyer, Mark Bederow disagreed, saying Russo’s confession “completely exculpates Giuca.

“This is a significant development,” Bederow said. “There is no rational reason for Russo to have finally admitted that he killed Mark Fisher — which he did in chilling detail — while holding back anything regarding Giuca’s purported involvement.

“It’s disturbing that the DA only saw fit to interview Russo while trying to rebuild its destroyed case against Giuca, rather than when they were reviewing Giuca’s now-vacated conviction in 2014,” he added.

Giuca and Russo were both sentenced to 25 years to life, but Giuca’s conviction was overturned by an appeals court in February. The DA’s Conviction Review Unit investigated Giuca’s case but declined to vacate his conviction in 2015.

The appeals court found that the prosecutor overseeing the case, Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi, failed to tell jurors that a jailhouse snitch named John Avitto got special treatment from the DA’s Office in exchange for his testimony.

Giuca’s mother, Doreen Giuliano, told The Post on Tuesday that Russo’s confession finally clears her son’s name.

“My fingers are crossed. I knew this day would come someday because you can’t bury the truth,” she said. “Now, let’s hope the wheels of justice turn a bit faster and grants John the freedom he deserves.”

Prosecutors have filed a notice to appeal Giuca’s overturned conviction.

“If I’m blessed with freedom. I will use this opportunity to prove to Eric Gonzalez and all the judges involved that I’m a decent human being and deserve to be exonerated,” Giuca said through his mother.