Cortlandt slay suspect told troopers of 'surreal' events
By Shawn Cohen
The Journal News • April 30, 2008
Threatening to jump off a bridge, Cortlandt resident Robert Sepe told troopers who were trying to talk him out of suicide that he had just had a "surreal" night in which "really, really bad things" had happened, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.
Troopers grabbed the 53-year-old owner of a health supplement business off the ledge and later charged him with beating his fiancee, Janette Carlucci, to death with a baseball bat hours earlier in his Cortlandt home.
Sepe made a brief appearance yesterday in Westchester County Court in White Plains, where prosecution documents describe the conversation that troopers say they had with Sepe as they urged him to back off the edge of an overpass in upstate Binghamton on March 22.
During a five-hour standoff, the prosecution says, Sepe started out by lying about his identity and eventually opened up and talked about some serious problems he said he was having. He told the troopers that he had been suffering from panic attacks, depression and insomnia in recent months, and that he was taking two psychotropic medications, Elavil and Zoloft, along with medicine to control high blood pressure; he mentioned he had one pill in his pocket. He said the drugs were "contradicting each other" and his psychologists and internists "didn't know what each other was prescribing," the documents say.
The standoff began shortly after 4 p.m. Sepe initially told the troopers that he had just hitchhiked from the Bronx, and that he lived there and was trying to get away for unstated reasons. He said he was 39 and, when asked how his hands got injured, said a car intentionally hit him as he was trying to hitch a ride.
He eventually spoke about a neighborhood in the Bronx where he said he grew up, mentioning the Italian food there. One of the troopers gave him a sandwich, from which he took a few bites.
He then talked about his insomnia, saying he had been averaging zero to four hours of sleep a night since October, and would wake up with a racing heart and panic attacks. A doctor was going to test him for sleep apnea, he told the troopers, but he had to cancel an appointment because he had injured his back lifting weights. He started going to a chiropractor, but stopped because of his panic disorders and depression, he said.
He said he had slept only two hours the previous night, and was dying inside.
"During this conversation on the overpass, the defendant repeatedly said that what had occurred the night before was surreal," the prosecution documents say. "When asked what could be so bad that he would want to kill himself, the defendant said that what happened was 'really bad,' so surreal and not something that he would ordinarily do; that 'bad things' happened yesterday; that they had 'no idea,' that it was really, really bad."
Sepe also repeatedly told them that he wished he could be more candid and expressed a desire to turn back time to October, when the panic attacks began.
"He said there was nothing left for him," the papers say.
He apparently showed no antagonism toward the troopers, telling them that he had high respect for police officers and lifted weights with a lot of them in the Bronx.
In discussing weightlifting, he went into great detail about how various vitamins and supplements could affect the body. He said he hated drugs and never used illegal substances such as cocaine and marijuana. He said he didn't drink coffee or alcohol, or eat meat, though he had once tried venison.
Later, Sepe was asked about the knife in his pocket. He said he might need it to "cut himself on the way down after he jumped."
The troopers grabbed him before he could kill himself.
He is charged with second-degree murder, a felony punishable by 25 years to life in prison.
Reach Shawn Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-694-5046.