The man charged with killing a mob boss in New York earlier this year had no intention of shooting the man but wanted to make a citizen’s arrest because he was so deluded by conspiracy theories, his lawyer told a court Friday.
Anthony Comello, 24, is charged with killing Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, a leader in the Gambino family. Police say Comelo drove to Cali’s home, spoke to him outside, and shot him before speeding off and leaving him to die.
Comelo was arrested three days after the killing, which The New York Times reported was the “highest-profile mob killing in decades” and sparked rumors of a renewed war between New York’s crime families.
But his lawyer submitted documents to the court Friday suggesting that the killing was not a mob-hit at all.
Comello was protecting Trump from ‘deep state,’ lawyer says:
Comello’s attorney asked the court to place his client in psychiatric treatment rather than prosecute him for the killing.
“He ardently believed that Francesco Cali, a boss in the Gambino crime family, was a prominent member of the deep state, and, accordingly, an appropriate target for a citizen’s arrest,” Comello’s attorney Robert Gottlieb wrote to the court.
According to Gottlieb, Comello was a QAnon conspiracy theorist who believed that Trump had selected him to take down Cali, who he believed was part of the “deep state.”
“Mr. Comello became certain that he was enjoying the protection of President Trump himself, and that he had the president’s full support,” Gottlieb wrote.
According to Gottlieb, Comello brought handcuffs with him with the intention of making a citizen’s arrest but when Cali resisted, Comello shout him 10 times and fled.
Lawyer blames QAnon conspiracy:
During Comello’s first court appearance in March, he displayed symbols associated with the baseless, nonsensical QAnon conspiracy theory on his hand.
“Mr. Comello’s support for ‘QAnon’ went beyond mere participation in a radical political organization,” Gottlieb wrote. “It evolved into a delusional obsession.”
The attempted citizen’s arrest of Cali was not his first. He previously tried to arrest New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio twice (unsuccessfully). He also sought the help of a federal court to arrest California Democrats Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff. He was “rebuffed,” The Times reported.
Posts on his social media profiles also linked the Clintons, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and other top Democrats to the conspiracy theory.
“QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory that originated on internet message boards, played a key role in Mr. Comello’s descent into mental instability, his lawyer said. It claims, among other things, that America is controlled by a ‘deep state,’ that prominent Democratic politicians are pedophiles and that John F. Kennedy Jr., who died in a 1999 plane crash, is secretly alive and will run for president in 2020,” The Times reported.