A Navy veteran was given an 18-year to life sentence for murdering his sister with a bayonet blade and an awl because he thought she would kill their mother from the true-crime shows she liked to watch.
According to courtroom minutes obtained by Inside Edition, 53-year-old Anthony Dibella informed the judge in Jefferson County, New York, that he received a formal diagnosis of schizoaffective and bipolar disorders in 1994 after participating in Operation Desert Storm in the hopes that he “might get [some] help from a VA hospital instead of going to prison.”
According to court records, Dibella called 911 dispatchers to report his sister’s murder on April 28, 2022, saying “Wanda Paoli is being killed, she is a witch killed with a knife and awl, and is currently on the porch” of their home in the town of Lyme.
According to court filings, Paoli was found dead with stab wounds to the head, neck, and face by first responders.
Dibella is accused of telling police that he “had to do what I did to her because she was getting in the way of me communicating to God” after they arrived at the house he and Paoli shared and discovered the slain 67-year-old on the porch.
After discovering his mother, 89, unhurt inside, police detained Dibella and charged him with second-degree murder, assault with the intent to seriously hurt, and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
In their impact statement read aloud at the Sept. 20 sentencing hearing, Paoli’s sons Shawn and Josh expressed their desire for Dibella to “rot in prison with no chance of ever getting out for what he has done” and stated that their convicted uncle was “nothing to [them] now.”
“He selfishly and violently took her life and has destroyed our family,” the statement read. “Every day is difficult, and no one can ever understand the physiological impact this senseless tragedy has had… on the lives of our entire family because our mother is no longer here with us. I cannot even put into words how much she is missed.”
According to court records, Dibella responded to their statement with an attempt to defend the assassination rather than offering an apology.
Dibella stated at his sentence that he was persuaded Paoli planned to kill their mother due to her “obsess[ion] with reality shows about serial killers,” her most recent acquisition of a battery-operated chainsaw, and a slight bruise he noticed on his mother’s hand.
While Dibella admitted that he “stopped all [his] psychotropic medications” after “attending a healing church service” in 2019, which caused his “paranoia to get the best of [him],” the veteran emphasised his delusions in court.
“I believe without a shadow of a doubt that I saved my mother’s life that day,” Dibella concluded.
According to the documents, a prosecutor objected to Dibella’s testimony in court because she was “here for sentencing, not to disparage the victim of an intentionally depraved murder, here.”
Before passing judgment on Dibella, Judge David Renzi reprimanded the defendant.
“I was very familiar with issues that could potentially be a mental health defence – those, of course, were negated when you entered a guilty plea to murder in the second degree,” Renzi noted. “When we discussed that plea, you made it very clear to me that you intentionally caused the death of Wanda Paoli. You described it as unsound measures that you took. Well, it’s more than that. You made a choice… to kill somebody.”