Tropeano pleads not guilty in Hulda Lane shooting
Mauro Tropeano pleaded not guilty to a second-degree assault charge for the shooting of a teenage girl during an attempted car theft outside his home in Ridgefield this past June.
Eugene Riccio, a Bridgeport attorney representing Tropeano, confirmed to The Press that Tropeano, 33, is pleading not guilty to additional charges against him. Tropeano was also charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm and interfering with an officer, according to Captain Jeff Kreitz of the Ridgefield Police Department.
Tropeano was also charged with illegal sale, distribution, manufacture/non-drug dependent person, after police searched his home and found seven pounds of marijuana, $26,000 in cash stuffed in a plastic bucket, more than 200 unmarked pills, and several firearms. Police searched the home after neighbors reported hearing gunshots in in the early morning of June 5 in two separate 911 calls.
In a phone conversation with The Press, Riccio said that Tropeano “entered a pro forma ‘not guilty plea’ in a jury election — a request for a jury trial.”
“At this point I am continuing my work on behalf of Mr. Tropeano’s defense,” Riccio told The Press.
Riccio said he was not at liberty to say what the next step in the defense process would be.
He said that he had filed a motion with the Danbury Superior Court to have Tropeano’s Range Rover — which the gang of teenagers attempted to steal — released from police evidence.
Police say a gang of teens attempted to steal Tropeano’s Range Rover that was parked in his driveway in the early morning of June 5. Video evidence, taken from cameras Tropeano had installed on the exterior of his house, show Tropeano running outside to confront the teens after calling police on his cell phone, court documents viewed by The Press say.
Neighbors called 911 to report hearing three or five shots from Tropeano’s driveway.
A 15 year-old girl from Waterbury was shot in the back during the incident. She was later released from the hospital, after doctors were unable to remove the bullet due to its location near her spine.
She is being charged with conspiracy to commit larceny in the first degree for the attempted car theft, along with another 16 year-old girl, also from Waterbury.
Tropeano turned himself in Monday, Aug. 21, after learning there was a warrant out for his arrest, police told The Press. He was arrested at Ridgefield Police headquarters, at around 8 p.m. He was released from police custody that same night, after posting bond of $100,000.
Tropeano initially denied firing a gun during the confrontation in his statement to police on June 5. When Ridgefield police asked to test his hands for powder residue, Tropeano left the station without being tested.
Weeks later, Tropeano finally admitted to police that he had fired his weapon that night. “In defense of my person, I discharged my Glock 9mm pistol,” Tropeano said on June 30, through his lawyer.
But Tropeano’s claim of self-defense may be difficult to prove in court. The use of force for self-defense is narrowly defined in Connecticut state laws.
“Connecticut does not have a stand-your-ground law, but instead requires an individual to retreat when able to do so,” according to a report by the Office of Legislative research.
The report goes on to state that “deadly force is reasonable only (1) to defend oneself or another; (2) when one reasonably believes deadly force is necessary to prevent an attempt by the trespasser to commit arson or any violent crime; or (3) to the extent the person reasonably believes it is necessary and only to prevent or terminate an unlawful entry by force into his or her dwelling or place of work.”
In a previous statement to The Press regarding video evidence of the shooting, Riccio said Tropeano acted in fear during the shooting. “What’s important to focus on is that my client was terrorized by a gang of thieves in the middle of the night,” Riccio said to The Press on Sept. 1.