FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 4, 2022

 

Staten Island Man Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Prison
For Fatal Assault of Off-Duty Firefighter Following Minor Fender Bender

Defendant Struck Victim in the Head with Blunt Object, Left the Scene

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Staten Island man has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison following his murder conviction for assaulting and causing the death of an off-duty firefighter on the Belt Parkway. The victim suffered multiple skull fractures and hemorrhaging from a fatal blow to the head.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant’s vicious response to a minor fender bender robbed a close family of a loved one and a firefighter community of a brave and treasured brother. Our hearts continue to be with the Mr. Coto’s relatives, friends and coworkers as they grieve this unspeakable loss, and I hope today’s sentence helps bring some sense of solace knowing that this defendant has been held accountable.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Joseph Desmond, 33, of Staten Island. The defendant was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice to 25 years to life in prison. He was convicted of second-degree murder last month following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, in the early morning hours of December 9, 2018, the defendant and the victim, Faizal Coto, 33, were both traveling east on the Belt Parkway when they had a minor collision. Both drivers pulled over to the side of the road near Exit 4 at the Bay 8th Street. The defendant immediately got out of his car, walked to the victim’s car, viciously struck him in the head with a blunt object, returned to his car, and drove away. The entire interaction took less than 15 seconds.

The victim, who suffered profound skull fractures, collapsed to the ground next to his car. A passerby traveling west-bound saw him and called 911. The victim, who was an off-duty firefighter assigned to Engine 245 in Brooklyn, was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Coney Island Hospital.

The defendant was arrested the following day after license plate readers picked up the plate number of his 2006 Infiniti G35 on the Belt Parkway near the victim’s car at the same approximate time and in the vicinity of the incident. Police tracked down the defendant to a motel in South Amboy, New Jersey. Data from his cell phone also placed him at the scene of the murder, according to the evidence, and numerous surveillance video cameras captured his movements before, during and after the murder.

The District Attorney thanked Detective Gilberto Alonso of the Brooklyn South Homicide Squad, Detective Oliver Muir, of the 62nd Precinct Detective Squad, Detective Omar Santiago, of the NYPD Video Unit, Assistant District Attorney Robert Kaftal, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Law Enforcement Assistance Unit, Senior Intelligence Analyst Eungee Hwang and Paralegal Meghan Brancato for their assistance in the case.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Andy Palacio, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Quon, of the District Attorney’s Orange Zone Trial Bureau.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.