John Giuca: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

by S.M. Walsh

Tonight, ABC News’ 20/20 will investigate John Giuca, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2003 death of Mark Fisher. Despite the fact that his conviction was unanimously overturned in 2018, Giuca is still being held behind bars at Riker’s Island.

He has been denied three bail hearings despite the overturned conviction.

Here’s what you need to know.


1. He Was Convicted of the Second-Degree Murder of 19-Year-Old Mark Fisher

On October 11, 2003, Giuca was partying with friends in Manhattan.

Meanwhile, Mark Fisher, 19, a sophomore at Fairfield University, was out in Manhattan on the evening of October 11, bar hopping in the Upper East Side.

Eventually, Fisher found himself at Giuca’s party at his parents’ house in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. It’s unclear what transpired in the early morning hours of October 11, but Fisher’s lifeless body was eventually found on Argyle Road, just two blocks from Giuca’s home.

In the words of ABC News, “He had been viciously beaten and shot five times. He was found lying on a blanket that had come from Giuca’s home.”

Eventually, friends of Giuca came forward, testifying against him. In 2004, a jury found Giuca guilty on charges of second-degree murder, robbery, and multiple counts of criminal possession of a firearm. They took two days to deliberate his conviction.

2. His Conviction Was Overturned in 2018

In 2018, Giuca’s conviction was overturned citing that the lead prosecutor in the case withheld information from the defense.

About one month later, on March 22, 2018, Anthony Russo confessed to killing Mark Fisher. In the police report, obtained by ABC News, Russo does not implicate Giuca.

Speaking to detectives, Russo reportedly said he walked Fisher outside, pointed his gun at him, and told him to run. The report read, “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 said, ‘Why did you shoot me?’ And Russo fired the rest of the bullets from the gun at Fisher, killing him.”


3. Giuca Was Studying Criminal Justice at the Time of His Arrest

At the time of his arrest, Giuca was studying criminal justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He hoped to become a police detective.

Antonio Russo, who is believed to have supplied marijuana the night of the party, was also under investigation at the time of Giuca’s arrest. It has been reported that he cut his hair the morning of the murder and left for California.

Former New York Police Department detective Robert Mladinich tells 20/20, “He [Russo] had dreadlocks that he had cultivated for years, so for him to get them sheared was very suspect… And then he takes off for California a couple of days later. That certainly makes him the prime suspect.”

4. His Mother’s Fight to Free Her Son Has Received Widespread Attention

Giuca’s mother’s attempts to free him have been acknowledged by a range of highly-esteemed media outlets, including Anderson Live, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, and The Guardian.

After her son’s trial, Giuliano went undercover in an attempt to find out the truth about what happened the night Fisher was killed. She befriended a man named Jason Allo, and secretly recorded their conversations. Allo, a member of the jury, admitted in those recordings that he had biases against Giuca. Using that evidence, she was able to bring an appeal to her son’s case.

She has since been given the name, “Mother Justice.” In their profile of her, Vanity Fair writes, “When her son was sentenced to 25 years for Brooklyn’s 2003 ‘grid kid’ slaying, Doreen Quinn Giuliano was sure he’d been wrongfully convicted. To prove it, she went undercover, testing her sanity, her marriage, and the justice system.”

A section of The Guardian’s article, titled, “How one US mother went undercover in a bid to clear ‘killer’ son” states that in order to reinvent herself and befriend Allo, Giuca’s mother adopted a disguise– she lost weight, died her hair blonde, and went to a tanning salon. She even rented an apartment near Allo’s home.


5. He Is Still in Prison at Riker’s Island

Giuca has long maintained his innocence. Today, he remains in Riker’s Island jail.

Speaking to 20/20 recently, Giuca, 35 today, said, “I had nothing to do with the murder of Mark Fisher… I want my name cleared. One of the worst parts about this is people thinking that I’m a murderer. And I want that wiped away because it shouldn’t be there in the first place.”

The outlet quotes Doreen Giuliano as saying, “John is innocent and we can prove it… They put away an innocent man and there’s nothing that’s going to stop me.”

The judge, meanwhile, stated, “I find no reason to release the defendant, nor to grant bail in this case.” The prosecution has until May to decide whether Giuca will be retried.

Watch the full story tonight on ABC News’ 20/20 at 9pm ET/PT.