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Sword attack killer gets another 55-year prison sentence


ROCKVILLE, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man who viciously and randomly attacked two people with a Samurai-style sword, killing one and severely wounding the other, was sentenced Thursday to 55 years in prison, the same sentence he received for a fatal shooting and kidnapping that occurred two days after the attack.

Peter Manfredonia struck 62-year-old Ted DeMers in the head with the sword, completely severed his right hand, sliced off his left thumb and index finger and repeatedly slashed his back during the attack in Willington on May 22, 2020. Manfredonia then wounded an 80-year-old man, who had severe injuries to his hands, as well as injuries to his head and neck. DeMers was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Manfredonia, now 26, who was a University of Connecticut senior in 2020 studying finance and mechanical engineering, later held another local man hostage for 24 hours. He then drove across the state to Derby, fatally shot a school classmate and kidnapped that victim’s girlfriend. He was caught in Hagerstown, Maryland, ending a six-day manhunt in several states.

Manfredonia appeared in state Superior Court in Rockville on Thursday for sentencing. He pleaded guilty to murder and assault charges in February, and agreed to the 55-year sentence. He also apologized for his actions during his appearance. On Wednesday, he received the same prison term for the Derby killing and kidnapping after emotional testimony by victims’ relatives. Manfredonia will serve the two sentences concurrently.

In the Willington attack, police said Manfredonia did not know the two men. A woman who lived near DeMers told authorities that she had stopped seeing him recently. DeMers believed Manfredonia had crashed his motorcycle down the street and was trying to help him, witnesses told police. DeMers’ 80-year-old neighbor, John Franco, a U.S. Navy veteran, saw the attack and tried to stop it.

At the sentencing, Franco said he thought Manfredonia should get the death penalty.

“He should be terminated. I'm a true believer in capital punishment,” he said. Connecticut does not have the death penalty.

Manfredonia’s lawyer, Michael Dolan, previously said Manfredonia had trouble getting help for mental health problems in the first months of the coronavirus pandemic and was having a psychotic episode at the time of the attack.

Manfredonia fled the scene and later invaded another local man’s home, tying him up and holding him hostage for about 24 hours. Manfredonia left with the man’s pickup and some of his firearms, according to an arrest warrant.

In Derby, Manfredonia fatally shot 23-year-old Nicholas Eisele, a classmate from their hometown of Newtown. He kidnapped Eisele’s girlfriend, Shannon Spies, and drove to New Jersey, where he let her go in Columbia near the Pennsylvania line, police said. It remains unclear why Manfredonia went to Eisele and Spies’ apartment.

After letting Spies go, Manfredonia took an Uber and investigators tracked him to East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, but didn’t find him. A man fitting his description was later spotted near Scranton, Pennsylvania, prompting another search there.

Police believe Manfredonia stole a car and abandoned it in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, before taking another Uber to Hagerstown, Maryland, where he was captured without incident when police spotted him near a truck stop.

Dave Collins, The Associated Press

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