Benjamin Lopez viciously hacked a 73-year-old grandmother to death with a machete during robbery in Levittown
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly announced the conviction of a Levittown man in the brutal machete killing of a 73-year-old grandmother during a home invasion on Newbridge Road in September 2017.
Benjamin Lopez, 27, was convicted Thursday after a jury trial before Judge Fran Ricigliano of Murder in the First Degree (an A-I felony); Murder in the Second Degree (an A-I felony); two counts of Robbery in the First Degree (a B violent felony); two counts of Burglary in the First Degree (a B violent felony); two counts of Assault in the First Degree (a B violent felony); Robbery in the Second Degree (a C violent felony); Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree (a D felony); and Criminal Possession of a Firearm (an E felony).
The trial began on June 14, 2022, and the jury deliberated for two days before delivering their verdict on June 30, 2022. The defendant faces a maximum of life in prison without parole when he is sentenced on September 13, 2022.
“Laraine Pizzichemi’s life was horrifically extinguished when Benjamin Lopez hacked and slashed her repeatedly with a machete for simply being present as he and Deangelo Gill robbed her grandson,” said DA Donnelly. “Pizzichemi was slight and frail, having undergone chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, and unable to fight for her life against the vicious attack. For this ruthless crime, Lopez will likely spend the rest of his life in a prison cell. I thank the jury for their verdict, ensuring justice for Laraine Pizzichemi and her family.”
DA Donnelly said, according to the charges, on September 13, 2017, the defendant and a co-defendant, Deangelo Gill, broke into a home on Newbridge Road in Levittown seeking revenge on the resident, Mark Depperman, and planning to steal his marijuana and money. Once inside the home, they encountered 73-year-old Laraine Pizzichemi, Depperman’s grandmother. Lopez then hacked Pizzichemi to death with a machete and Lopez and Gill went through the home looking for money and drugs.
Depperman returned home while Gill and Lopez were still inside. The defendants began beating up Depperman and Lopez slashed at Depperman’s arms with the machete, causing serious physical injuries. Lopez also threatened Depperman with a handgun, demanding money from a safe. Depperman complied, and the defendants took cash and marijuana.
Depperman was able to call 911 before the phone was taken from his hand and broken on the ground. The call went through, and police responded. Lopez and Gill fled out the back door to Lopez’s house around the corner from the victim’s home when police arrived.
Lopez and Gill were both arrested by members of the Nassau County Police Department while trying to flee Lopez’s home in a car.
Gill previously pleaded guilty to Murder in the Second Degree, and was sentenced on December 4, 2019, to 17 years to life in prison.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Stefanie Palma of the Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Abensur of the Appeals Bureau. The defendant is represented by Robert Gottlieb, Esq.