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Guilty plea could mean 30-year term

NEW PORT RICHEY — Nicholas Altamuro pleaded guilty Wednesday to stabbing his ex-girlfriend 51 times one afternoon more than three years ago.

Altamuro, 49, of Holiday could get up to 30 years in prison for attempted murder, according to the plea deal.

Circuit Judge Thane Covert set sentencing for Nov. 26.

Donnalee Johnston, 51, had moved here from New Jersey to try to get away from him. Despite a restraining order he followed her.

On Aug. 24, 2005, Altamuro, shirtless and shaggy-haired, showed up at Johnston's pink-trimmed mobile home in New Port Richey. She dialed 911 before he even got inside. He attacked her in her bedroom on the floor by the TV and stabbed her with two steak knives in her hands, wrists, chest, neck and back.

The 911 tape of the still-open line is hard to listen to.

"I'm going to kill you!"

"Die!"

"Help me!"

In court, where Altamuro sat in his orange and white county jail jump suit with the other inmates, he looked at her too much, Johnston thought. On Wednesday, early in the hearing, he leaned back in his chair and stared.

Johnston stood with a victim's advocate from the Sheriff's Office and held hands. She wiped her eyes with tissues.

"I've been waiting for this," she whispered.

After the judge accepted Altamuro's guilty plea, Johnston stood in the hall outside the courtroom and said she still has nightmares. When she does, she calls the jail, where the workers know her voice.

They tell her he hasn't been released and he's still there. They tell her it's going to be okay.

Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6244.

Guilty plea could mean 30-year term 10/22/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 7:38pm]
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