KENNEDY TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – A military veteran convicted of killing his aunt’s fiancé will spend the rest of his life in prison.
In July of 2014, police say Michael Lapaglia shot and killed 59-year-old Jack Parkes inside his home on Poplar Street in Kennedy Township.
The best friend of the victim was among those who spoke at the emotional hearing.
“Jack was always there,” said Joseph Giovengo. “He didn’t deserve this. He was about to be married. He didn’t deserve it.”
But, just weeks before Jack Parkes was to be married to Carol Lapaglia, the aunt of defendant Michael Lapaglia, who grew up under the love and care of people like Parkes, Parkes was found shot to death in a house in Kennedy Township in July of 2014.
Her emotional victim impact statement referred to the nightmare with which she still lives.
“When I came home from work that day and found Jack, I never dreamed in a million years it would have been my nephew, Michael, that took his life,” she told the judge. “How could that same kid that we loved so much, do something so horrific to his uncle? I struggle with that question every day.”
During the trial, prosecutors showed the jury pictures of Lapaglia’s attempt to sell some of the jewelry stolen from the ransacked house after the murder.
Judge David Cashman told Lapaglia the murder was senseless, stupid and mean-spirited. He sentenced him to life without the chance for parole plus 10 to 20 years for the robbery.
But closure for family and friends isn’t easy.
“I knew Jack since first grade,” said Giobengo. “He was my brother, best friend. I’m depressed. I’ll never get over that. My mother died four years before. She was 93 and I thought that was the worst thing that ever happened, but this was the worst.”
“You never get closure. I mean a little bit, knowing that he’ll never see the light of day. But, nothing’s going to bring Jack back. Nothing’s going to bring the families closure I don’t think. I hope I’m wrong.”
The defendant argued he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. But that had no impact on the jury verdict or the judge’s sentence.
Lapaglia, who was arrested in August of 2014, was convicted of first-degree murder back in June.