STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. Saying they believed he was truly repentant and could avoid trouble when back in society, members of a state board have granted parole to a New Dorp Beach man who killed his brother 24 years ago during an argument in the family home.
Thomas Corella, 62, had served more than 23 years of a sentence of 20 years to life for first-degree manslaughter in the June 19, 1996 fatal stabbing of his brother Victor Corella, 35.
Thomas Corella was 38 then.
The panel weighed several factors, such as your age, length of incarceration, your institutional adjustment, your completion of programming (while in prison), your remorse for the victims and your risk and needs assessment, the three-person board wrote. Your insight into the harm and pain you caused your family and yourself was given considerable weight. Therefore, the panel believes that your release would no longer be incompatible with the welfare of society and you can live a law-abiding life.
In setting Corella free, the board also acknowledged there had been official and community opposition to his release.
The panel reminded Corella the decision to parole him should in no way be interpreted or intended to minimize your crime or the senseless loss of life you caused.
Corella was released last Dec. 10. The board interviewed him two months earlier on Oct. 16, a transcript of the proceeding shows.
Only a few months earlier, a state board had denied Corella parole after a late August interview.
Corella told the board then he had learned my lesson and turned his life around in prison.
The board at that time apparently didnt agree.
In rejecting Corella, the panel had cited his criminal history, which includes two prior prison stints the first for attempted burglary, after which he violated parole, and later for seriously attacking his girlfriend, for which he pleaded guilty to attempted assault.
Corella had been out of prison for slightly more than a year when he killed his brother, said that board.
Corella was brought back before the board in October as a special consideration for parole, said the partially-redacted hearing transcript.
He again expressed his remorse to the panel and said alcohol- and drug-abuse had been at the root of his problems.
He said he has been clean now for 23 years.
I brought upon my family something horrific for which I have to live with for the rest of whatever life I have, Corella said. And I cant tell you how regretful I am that this ever happened, and I am certain that had I not been intoxicated, had I not been under the influence, that this would not have happened.
Prosecutors said the killing occurred between 5:15 and 5:30 p.m. inside the home on Milbank Road, which Victor shared with the siblings mother. Thomas Corella had been staying at the home for about 10 days, the Advance reported.
Corella testified at his trial in September 1998 that the events unfolded in his mothers bedroom after he came home from work.
He said his brother questioned him about missing house keys, and he quizzed Victor in return about money missing from their mothers purse.
Corella said his sibling charged him and put him in a chokehold, and fearing for his life, he stabbed Victor in self-defense.
Prosecutors, however, alleged Thomas Corella had become enraged during an argument with his brother over smoking in the house and repeatedly plunged the eight-and-a-half-inch blade of a kitchen knife into the victims chest.
Ramona Corella, the mens mother, was slashed on the nose in the struggle.
A witness testified she was on the phone with Ramona Corella and overheard the two men arguing.
The woman said she heard Victor imploring his mother to tell his older brother to stop, while Thomas told the younger man twice to Shut up, according to Advance reports.
The witness said she heard the phone drop, a scuffle, and a bang before the phone went dead.
A jury in state Supreme Court, St. George, acquitted Corella of second-degree murder, but convicted him of first-degree manslaughter.
In his October interview with the parole board, Corella said he had consumed around three quarts of beer before the deadly confrontation.
He said he and his brother began fighting, and Victor put him in a headlock. He said he escaped, went into a kitchen, got a knife and returned.
At that point I did not recognize him as my brother, Corella told the board.
He admitted to stabbing the victim several times and expressed his contrition.
I have had many years to think of what I did and how many people I hurt, he said, adding he does not believe he is the same person he was back then.
People do change for the better, and I am done with alcohol and I am done with drugs, said Corella. I am just asking for a chance for whatever years I have left to spend positively.
The board imposed a number of conditions on Corella.
He must obtain a job or enter an academic or vocational program. He must submit to substance-abuse testing, as required.
In addition, he cannot consume alcohol, he must abide by a curfew his parole officer establishes and must participate in any anti-aggression or anti-violence counseling as directed.
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