Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Decaro Weeps during First Testimony

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Decaro Weeps during First Testimony

Article excerpt

Richard DeCaro, on trial a second time in the alleged contract murder of his wife, wept briefly in court Tuesday when he looked at a love note his wife had written him on the morning of her death.

"Yes, that's the card," DeCaro said as his voice broke. Moments later, he clutched the card to his chest.

DeCaro, 34, of St. Charles, testified for one hour and 40 minutes Tuesday in his trial on federal charges of arranging to have his wife, Elizabeth DeCaro, murdered in their home four years ago today.

DeCaro is to resume testifying today; he has yet to be cross-examined.

Tuesday was the first time DeCaro ever has testified about the murder. He did not do so in September 1994 when he was acquitted in St. Charles County Circuit Court on a state charge of first-degree murder.

In June 1994, Daniel Basile, 28, was convicted on the same charge and in the same courthouse of being the man who shot Elizabeth DeCaro twice in the neck while in her kitchen. Basile was sentenced to death.

Last May, a federal grand jury in St. Louis indicted DeCaro and Basile on new charges of murder conspiracy, murder for hire and mail fraud.

Elizabeth DeCaro, 28, had written on a greeting card of her hope that their marriage would get better. She put it into her husband's lunch bag, but he never opened it that day. It wasn't opened until shortly before his first trial in 1994.

Defense lawyer Scott Rosenblum gave the card to DeCaro after taking him slowly through testimony about the couple's marriage, Richard DeCaro's affair in late 1991 and the days and hours leading up to the murder. U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh halted testimony about 5:30 p.m.

Rosenblum had yet to ask about charges that DeCaro hired Basile and arranged for him to steal the couple's 1985 Chevrolet Blazer and some home electronics. But DeCaro did deny some specific allegations.

He said he had never talked to James Torregrossa, a manager at the Gold's Gym in Shrewsbury, about finding a hit man. Last week, Torregrossa testified that DeCaro made that request to him on Jan. 10, 1992.

"I asked him what he meant. He said, `Have someone killed,' " Torregrossa testified.

On Tuesday, DeCaro said, "I absolutely did not. …

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