YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: An Englewood security guard who who has spent the past six years and eight months in jail and psychiatric institutions awaiting trial today admitted shooting his girlfriend’s estranged husband dead in a public park.
Livio Morales, 52, will be sentenced to 20 years in November under a plea deal with prosecutors, closing one of the oldest pending criminal cases at the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack.
The six years and eight months of jail time that he’s already spent, combined with the No Early Release Act requirement that he serve 85% of the sentence, keeps Morales in state prison for at least another 10 years before he’ll be eligible for parole.
Today’s plea came after experts at the Ann Klein Forensic Center in West Trenton found Morales fit to be tried after treatment there.
Horrified onlookers fled Englewood’s Mackay Park shortly after 4 p.m. on Jan. 13, 2008 when Morales shot 45-year-old Severino Cepeda several times in the torso.
Some remained and identified Morales and Cepeda’s estranged wife, Patricia Pichardo, whom prosecutors said was living with Morales in Englewood.
Morales, who worked as a security guard for the Supreme Oil Co. in Englewood, was carrying a .45-caliber handgun when he was arrested, police said at the time.
Morales told Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi this afternoon that he’d never met the victim.
They began to argue, he said, and then “without regard for the value of human life, I drew a Colt pistol and fired in his chest, causing his death.”
A grand jury indicted Morales in March 2009, and he was initially found not competent to stand trial.
He remained held on $2 million bail in the Bergen County Jail after pleading guilty to first-degree aggravated manslaughter today.
Pichardo, a Dominican national, pleaded guilty to hindering and obstruction and was sentenced earlier this year to time served — 755 days in the county jail. Then she was deported.
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