URBANA, Ohio (AP) – A man who pleaded guilty to stabbing, suffocating and dismembering his girlfriend has been sentenced to life in prison and must serve at least 42 years before being eligible for parole.
Matthew Puccio, who was sentenced Monday in Champaign County Common Pleas Court, pleaded guilty last month to aggravated murder in the death of Jessica Rae Sacco along with other charges including felonious assault, gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. The remains of Sacco, 21, were found in the bathtub of their apartment in Urbana, in western Ohio, in late March.
Authorities said Puccio, 26, stabbed Sacco in the abdomen in an argument and suffocated her hours later with a plastic bag. Prosecutor Nick Selvaggio said in court that Sacco fought Puccio off at first but Puccio wrapped a second bag around her face.
The prosecutor also said Puccio enlisted the help of four friends to help in covering up the crime by dismembering the body and helping him dispose of limbs in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. The two men and two women also have pleaded guilty to charges in the case and were sentenced on counts including obstructing justice, gross abuse of a corpse and complicity to tampering with evidence, with sentences ranging from three years to 10 years.
Puccio told the judge before his sentencing that he loved Sacco. The Dayton Daily News reported that when the judge asked how he could “kill and butcher” someone he loved, he replied: “That’s what I’m still trying to figure out.”
Sacco’s mother, Susan Taynor, was in the courtroom on Monday, holding her daughter’s ashes in a red velvet bag in her lap.
Taynor said after the sentencing that she believes Puccio is “an expert in knowing how to manipulate,” the Urbana Daily Citizen reported.
During the investigation, Selvaggio said Puccio gave at least five versions of what happened to Sacco before he finally told authorities the truth. Selvaggio said that Puccio initially denied the killing, saying Sacco had kicked him out of the house. Other versions included the claim that he killed her in self-defense after she assaulted him and that he didn’t mean to dismember her.
In media interviews, Puccio said he met Sacco through Facebook while he was living in Texas, they moved in together in Urbana and they argued often. He also said Sacco begged him to kill her after he confronted her about text messages she’d sent saying she wanted him dead.
Puccio originally pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but changed his plea after he was found competent to stand trial.
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