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Insanity defense looming for Ho-Ho-Kus man in mom’s murder

Defense attorney Brian Neary, Nicholas Piotti, defense attorney John Weichsel (PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia) Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
Nicholas Piotti Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
Attendees included Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli (rear, left) Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
Superior Court Judge Margaret M. Foti Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia

HO-HO-KUS, N.J. -- A local man charged with stabbing and beating his mother to death in her home last fall will most likely plead insanity or incompetence, a prosecutor said this morning.

An attorney for Nicholas Piotti, 25, is having him evaluated "with an eye to a defense of either mental incompetence or insanity,” Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer told a judge in Hackensack.

Grootenboer said she won't offer a possible plea deal until she knows the outcome of the psychiatric evaluation.

Defense attorney John Weichsel -- joined by Brian Neary as co-counsel -- told Superior Court Judge Margaret M. Foti that he's hired two psychiatrists who have to review the evidence.

Weichsel entered a not guilty plea on Piotti's behalf.

As during a prior court hearing last year, several of Piotti’s relatives conferred with the defense lawyers and watched the proceedings closely.

Authorities have charged him with murder and weapons offenses in the brutal Sept. 1 killing of Karen Spector Piotti at the family's Ho-Ho-Kus home.

Police found her inside the family home around 3:30 that morning. The River Edge native was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Officers from Allendale, the Bergen County Police Department, Ridgewood, Saddle River and Upper Saddle River responded along with Ho-Ho-Kus police to what initially was suspected to be a home invasion.

That quickly changed when authorities seized Piotti, a former lacrosse player at Ridgewood High School, Marist College and St. John’s University and Dean’s List student at Marist.

Piotti was rushed to the intensive care unit at Bergen Regional Medical Center after having sources said was an apparent anxiety attack while being questioned by prosecutor’s investigators at their office in Paramus hours after he was taken into custody.

He was kept secured to his hospital bed under guard for two weeks for psychiatric reasons before being transferred to the Bergen County Jail, where he was being held on $2 million bail.

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