HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A former University of Connecticut student pleaded guilty to murder and other charges Wednesday for killing a man and severely wounding another with a sword in 2020 — one of two deadly attacks that led to a six-day manhunt in several states that ended with his capture in Maryland.
Peter Manfredonia, 26, from Newtown, Connecticut, agreed to a 55-year prison sentence during a hearing at Rockville Superior Court. Sentencing was set for April 20. He also is expected to plead guilty in connection with the second attack next week in state court in Milford, his lawyer said.
Manfredonia answered questions from the judge about the plea agreement during the hearing, but did not say anything else. He pleaded guilty to murder, assault and home invasion.
State's Attorney Matthew Gedansky said the victims and their families in both cases supported the plea bargain, which was the result of months of discussions.
“It was a global resolution plea agreement between everybody — a lot of discussion between the two state’s attorneys, the families of the victims ... and the two judges," Gedansky said in a phone interview.
Manfredonia's lawyer, Michael Dolan, called the plea agreement “a fair resolution” based on the evidence and seriousness of the charges. He said Manfredonia will plead guilty in the second case on Feb. 16 and receive another 55-year sentence, to run concurrently with the sentence in the other case.
Police and prosecutors said Manfredonia killed Ted DeMers, 62, and seriously wounded an 80-year-old man who lost several fingers and part of his ear in a Samurai sword attack in Willington on May 22, 2020.
It's not clear why Manfredonia attacked the men. But an acquaintance of Manfredonia's lived near DeMers' home and told police she stopped seeing him recently.
After the sword attack, police said Manfredonia broke into another man’s house in Willington and held him hostage for about 24 hours before taking off with his truck and firearms. The man later told police that Manfredonia told him “he just flipped.”
Two days later, Manfredonia went to the Derby home of a high school friend, Nicholas Eisele, 23, and fatally shot him, authorities said. Manfredonia then forced Eisele's girlfriend into her car and fled the state, police said.
After Manfredonia let the woman go near Columbia, New Jersey, investigators tracked him to Pennsylvania, where police said he took an Uber to a Walmart in East Stroudsburg. Authorities searched the area but didn’t find him. A man fitting his description was later spotted near Scranton, Pennsylvania, prompting another search there.
Police believe Manfredonia stole a car and abandoned it in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, before taking another Uber to Hagerstown, Maryland, where he was captured without incident when police spotted him near a truck stop.
Dolan, Manfredonia's lawyer, said Manfredonia was having mental health problems at the time and it was difficult for him to get help during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic.
“His mental health issues weren’t being addressed and unfortunately he had a psychotic episode,” Dolan told The Associated Press Wednesday.