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Buzzetta drops insanity plea to avoid life without the possibility of parole

By: Eric Laughlin, The Press Tribune
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David Buzzetta, the Roseville man convicted of first-degree murder for the March 2007 brutal killing of his stepfather, will serve 26 years to life in state prison. The sentence was agreed upon Tuesday by the prosecution in exchange for Buzzetta’s attorney withdrawing from a sanity hearing that had begun Monday. During that hearing, the same jury that convicted the 22 year-old Buzzetta Thursday listened to testimony by two defense psychologists, who both claimed Buzzetta suffered a psychotic breakdown when he bludgeoned to death 43 year-old Paul Bonomo with an aluminum baseball bat at Bonomo’s Granada Pass Drive, Roseville home. “What he saw were codes and numbers and everybody telling him that he was supposed to do this,” said Dr. Charlene Steen, who interviewed Buzzetta in jail in 2008. “When his mother told him he should go home with Paul (the night of the murder), he believed that to be a code to carry out the crime.” Steen and Dr. Mary Jane Adams both conducted lengthy interviews with Buzzetta, but neither administered a psychological evaluation specifically designed to determine whether or not a defendant is lying about his/her sanity. Prosecutor Tracy Lunardi had planned to call a third psychologist who had given Buzzetta such a test, which he had reportedly failed. Supervising deputy district attorney Steve Dragland said Buzzetta’s taking of the offer means he will avoid life without the possibility of parole, a sentence that likely would have been handed down due to the special circumstance of lying in wait. “After speaking with the victim’s family and (Buzzetta’s) family, both of which overlap, we decided that 26 to life was an adequate punishment,” Dragland said. The veteran prosecutor went on to say that the defense psychologists based their conclusions on “bizarre and imaginary claims.” “The defendant was not insane or abused by his parents and we all knew that,” he added. During the proceedings, defense attorney Vicki Cody had argued that Buzzetta suffered abuse by his stepfather and that his mother Eileen Bonomo manipulated her son into making incriminating remarks during a jail interview. Cody in her closing arguments last week had accused Eileen Bonomo and boyfriend Brian Stafford of lying to investigators about their relationship that reportedly began a year prior to the murder. Eileen Bonomo, who had been separated from her husband prior to his murder, vehemently denied such claims. She did not comment on the verdict but told prosecutor Lunardi “it’s not the verdict a mother wanted to hear, but from a business standpoint you did a great job.” It had taken the jury a little more than two days to come back with the guilty verdict. All of the men and women on the panel appeared incredibly emotional when it was read. A man and two women wept openly. Buzzetta will now be housed in jail while he awaits a February 26 formal sentencing hearing. He appeared somewhat somber but did not show much else emotion during the recent proceedings.