MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — The family of slain Italian student Rita Morelli will not have to endure the pain and uncertainty of a murder trial.
Bakary Camara, the man accused of brutally choking and stabbing the beautiful 36-year-old in her East Harlem apartment last year pleaded guilty Monday as jury selection was set to begin.
“It’s over,” said Giorgio Morelli, a cousin of the well-liked waitress at the Upper East Side's Caffe Buon Gusto and student at Borough of Manhattan Community College.
“I hope he will never get out,” Morelli, an Italian journalist, added after Camara, 42, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, rape and burglary before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan. As part of a plea deal, he’s expected to be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison later this month.
He faced life in prison without parole had he been convicted of the top charge.
Camara, born in the U.S., but raised in Senegal, sat next to a French interpreter during the hearing, and answered “yes” quietly as Merchan asked if he was guilty of the crimes.
Morelli and Camara had met in 2010, when the two worked in the high-end jeans shop 7 For All Mankind together in Soho – he as a security guard, she as a saleswoman.
Giorgio Morelli told reporters his cousin had said Camara was “obsessed with her” but that he was "harmless, pathetic."
Authorities said Camara, a father of two, and the victim had a brief romantic relationship.
The Bronx man was arrested in December for the brutal attack after a 911 call made from a pay phone two days after the slaying, informing police that a dead body was in Morelli's apartment, was traced back to Camara.
When cops tracked down Camara in his Bronx apartment in December, he allegedly stabbed himself in the stomach, said "I killed Rita" and announced that he had a note in his pocket.
Authorities said Camara blamed an evil spell that had come over him for the murder in the rambling three-page confession note.
Morelli was found choked, with her neck slashed, inside the 205 East 120th St. apartment by her live-in boyfriend on Nov. 23, 2011.
Giorgio Morelli said his beloved cousin and her boyfriend, a chef, were set to marry last June.
“She loved New York, she loved art, fashion, studying,” said Giorgio Morelli. “She was such a friendly, happy girl — coming here, studying here — it was her dream.”
Camara is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 30.