Just after Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi parlayed her success as a Brooklyn ADA into a new career as a true-crime TV host, an appeals court reversed one of her signature murder convictions.
A few months ago, John Giuca, a Brooklyn man who was wrongfully convicted of murder in 2005, sent me a letter asking that I write about the prosecutor who sent him to prison.
“Please try to drop one last bomb on these bastards for me, man. I’m trying to be strong, but with every denial I get I lose more hope. Every day I have to wake up to a fucked up world and battle suicidal thoughts. It’s made me hate life, man. It’s worn me down.”
Over 12 years, Giuca’s many appeals in state and federal courts had all been shot down. His prosecutor, Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi, a one-time star homicide prosecutor in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, parlayed the victory against Giuca into a gig with the Discovery Channel hosting a true-crime documentary series, True Conviction, that debuted earlier this year and features Nicolazzi as she “travels the country to interview prosecuting attorneys about the most difficult homicide cases they ever faced.” The show says it “reveals the real-life stories of how homicides are solved on the street and won in the courtroom.”
The evidence in People v. Giuca suggests that she abused her immense powers, maliciously and knowingly, to advance her career. She prospered, Giuca rotted in a cell.
Until now. On Wednesday, a state appellate court in Brooklyn, reviewing Nicolazzi’s case against him, unanimously reversed the conviction and sent it back to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, which may or may not opt to pursue a second prosecution. Today, Giuca — still incarcerated pending a hearing next week — is no longer a convicted murderer, and is technically a free man.
I don’t think the Brooklyn DA will come after Giuca again, given the facts of the case. On the night of October 12, 2003, Giuca allegedly ordered the murder of a Fairfield University student named Mark Fisher, who attended a party at Giuca’s house in Brooklyn. The party was packed with kids getting drunk. Fisher ended up a few blocks away, shot dead.
The New York tabloids, morbid, opportunistic, glommed onto the story at a time when crime in the city was plummeting. They hounded the Brooklyn DA’s office to find the culprit. Giuca said at the time that he was railroaded, had nothing to do with Fisher’s death, that he was a convenient suspect in a politicized case. Nonetheless, he was convicted of having dispatched a friend of his, Antonio “Tony” Russo, to kill Mark Fisher in what was said to be a gang initiation. They were friends, this much was true. And Russo apparently did kill Fisher. He is in prison for life. But there was no forensic evidence, no gun, no eyewitness evidence tying Giuca to the crime.