LARGO — Debra Graziano wanted a divorce from her husband, Edward, in 2005, but she never followed through because "he told me that if I did he would kill me," she testified in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court on Tuesday.
Her remarks came in an all-day court battle in the attempted-murder-for-hire case against Edward Graziano.
Graziano, 54, is accused of trying to hire a hit man to murder his wife for $1,100 in cash, a personal check for $1,000 and a gift card to Westshore Pizza for $13.06.
However, under questioning by defense attorney John Trevena on Tuesday, Debra Graziano acknowledged she had not filed for divorce during the more than a year that her husband has been in the Pinellas County Jail.
She said she hoped filing for divorce would be "my final legal hurdle this year" but said so far she has done nothing "aside from looking it up on LegalZoom."
The Grazianos' son, John Graziano, was severely injured in a car driven by Nick Bollea, the son of professional wrestler Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan.
Trevena has argued that the case should be dismissed, or failing that, that Sheriff's Office recordings of Graziano allegedly plotting the murder should be thrown out. Trevena says that Pinellas deputies went out of their jurisdiction to investigate a situation occurring primarily in Hillsborough County and that Graziano was entrapped. He also says a private investigator should not have acted as a confidential informer against Graziano, because Graziano hired the investigator and had a right to expect confidentiality.
Assistant State Attorney Scott Rosenwasser said he called Debra Graziano as a witness to establish some of the financial motive in the case against her husband.
Trevena asked questions of Debra Graziano to gauge whether Edward Graziano was, as he put it, "someone who has a big mouth and likes to talk a lot, or has a serious criminal intent."
But Circuit Judge Timothy Peters declared those questions irrelevant.
Rosenwasser questioned sheriff's Detective Misty Manning, establishing that meetings and conversations about the alleged plot were in Pinellas County.
"The only reason they were going into Hillsborough County was because of John," Manning said of the Grazianos. John Graziano spent two years the James A. Haley VA Medical Enter in Hillsborough County.
Attorneys will return May 28 to set a date to finish the hearing.