Niagara Gazette

Courts

January 23, 2013

87-year-old nursing home resident pleads not guilty in fatal beating

Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — The 87-year-old man accused of brutally beating his roommate at a Town of Tonawanda assisted living facility was arraigned Wednesday on a charge of first-degree manslaughter.

Although Chester Rusek was initially charged with first-degree assault after the incident, the victim, Salvatore Trusello, 86, succumbed to his severe injuries and died Dec. 27.

The case was then sent to a grand jury, which returned an indictment of manslaughter, according to Erie County Assistant District Attorney Paul Bonanno.

Rusek, appearing in court in a wheelchair, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the charge before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns.

Rusek allegedly attacked Trusello at 9:30 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 26, while the victim was still in bed at the Kenwell De-Paul Senior Living Community.

Rusek had fashioned a weapon from a speaker magnet, tied to a 2 1/2 inch piece of string. He used the weapon to beat Trusello repeatedly in the head, chest and wrist.

After the assault, Rusek, with the assistance of a walker, shuffled down to the front desk and told an employee to call for medical help for Trusello, telling her, “I just beat his (expletive).”

Shortly thereafter, police arrived, and Trusello, in a semi-conscious state, was able to identify Rusek as his attacker.

Trusello was sent to Erie County Medical Center's intensive care unit with a broken rib and punctured lung, police said, where he died the next month.

Rusek cooperated fully with authorities, and was taken back to the police department for an interview following the assault. Police said he confessed to the crime, and said he was angry at Trusello for stealing his records.

He allegedly told officers, “I didn’t want to kill him, I just wanted to get even.”

Bonanno said he has a tape of the interview as evidence, and provided Rusek's lawyer, Barry Dolgoff, with a copy Wednesday.

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