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Judge sentences killer of defrocked priest to up to 45 years

Updated June 22, 2023 - 7:57 pm

A man who killed a 70-year-old defrocked priest was sentenced to up to 45 years in prison on Tuesday.

Derrick Decoste, 29, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in April in connection with the March 2019 fatal shooting of John Capparelli.

Decoste had answered an ad to show up at the Henderson man’s home that spring for Capparelli to take photos of him wrestling, authorities said.

Capparelli was listed on the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey’s list of clergy who had been “credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors” and was defrocked in 1992 after dozens of sexual abuse allegations dating to the 1970s and 1980s, according to the church’s website.

Decoste’s girlfriend told police he mentioned wanting to rob the man but claimed he “chickened out” and stole some wrestling underwear and wristwatches. She gave police a bag containing Decoste’s 9 mm handgun and several wristwatches.

When police spoke to Decoste, who was 25 at the time, he admitted that he responded to a Craigslist ad for a “gig” to have photos taken, but he left before any photos were taken. Decoste’s 9 mm handgun matched the handgun used to kill Capparelli, police said.

District Judge Jacqueline Bluth ordered Decoste to serve 12 to 45 years in prison and pay $2,000 to the Clark County district attorney’s office extradition office. He was extradited to Henderson from Oakland County, Michigan, where he was held on unrelated charges after the shooting.

Decoste, who declined to speak during Tuesday’s hearing, is expected to receive more than four years of credit for time he has already served in jail since he was arrested.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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