MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A handyman from Staten Island was found guilty Monday of kidnapping and murdering an Inwood cleaning woman in Lower Manhattan and then stuffing her body into an air conditioning duct at the building where they both worked.
The jury of eight women and four men handed down the guilty verdict against Joseph Pabon after about two days of deliberations. Several of the jurors shed tears while the verdict was read, the culmination of a month-long trial in the killing of Eridania Rodriguez.
"My mother, she had a really horrific moment on July 7, 2009 and now it's Joseph Pabon's turn to suffer," said Rodriguez's daughter, Denise Figueroa, 29, among the family members who endured weeks of testimony about the gruesome crime.
"You can't call that person a human being, he's an animal."
Pabon was convicted of killing Rodriguez while committing another felony, kidnapping, but was acquitted of two additional counts — depraved indifference murder and intentional murder. He still faces up to life in prison at his May 11 sentencing.
Prosecutors argued at trial that Pabon grabbed the 46-year-old victim on an empty floor at 2 Rector St. on July 7, 2009. He took her to a desolate spot and suffocated her by taping her mouth shut.
Pabon then bound the victim and left her body to decompose for days before police made the gruesome discovery. He left work early and said he was sick but was found to have scratch marks on his arms and neck when he was questioned by cops.
DNA that matched Pabon's skin cells was recovered from underneath the victim's fingernails.
"In her last bold but futile attempts to fend off his attack, she repeatedly scratched and in doing so she identified her killer to all of you," ADA Christine Keenan described to the jury in opening statements.
After the verdict, Pabon's attorney, Mario Gallucci, said his client remains adamant about his innocence.
"I can't believe I got convicted of something I didn't do," Pabon told his lawyers from his jail, according to Gallucci.
Gallucci said he plans to appeal the verdict on Pabon's behalf.
"I am obviously disappointed in the verdict, however the jury worked very diligently as can be seen by them finding him not guilty of the first two counts," he said.