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Edward Graziano tried suicide in jail transport van, court is told

LARGO — Edward Graziano, who remains in jail on a charge that he tried to hire a hit man to kill his wife Debra, tried to commit suicide after he was arrested in February 2009, court documents show.

After he was interviewed by detectives, Graziano tried to strangle himself with a spare seat belt in a transport van as he was being taken to the Pinellas County Jail, reports a new filing in the case.

The document, filed Monday morning in Pinellas court, says Graziano's attorney, John Trevena, misrepresented the facts of the investigation in a motion to dismiss the case filed in January.

Trevena has argued that detectives with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office entrapped his client and "tenaciously pursued the defendant, despite his vacillation over a two-month period."

In the state's response, Assistant State Attorney Scott Rosenwasser argues that Trevena omitted large portions of recorded conversations between Graziano and a confidential informant, thereby altering the "true nature and context."

"The only indecision the defendant had was trying to determine how he could murder Ms. Graziano without getting caught, not whether to carry out the murder," according to the filing.

Rosenwasser lists numerous rebuttals to the entrapment issue, including that it was Graziano who approached the informant about the plan and that the informant told Graziano several times he did not want to be a part of the plot.

On several occasions, the informant tells Graziano, "It's up to you," the court documents show.

In one conversation between Graziano and the informant at Clearwater Mall, Graziano is quoted as saying, "I don't know if I'm doing the right thing, you know this could destroy me … wind up in f------ jail the rest of my life, might as well f------ kill myself."

Later, during the same conversation, Graziano allegedly said: "I mean, what good does it do me if she just gets f------ hurt?"

The court documents also contain an allegation that Graziano brought his mother with him when he paid for the hit man, who turned out to be an undercover detective. Graziano had his mother with him when he met the informant at a Sunoco gas station in Pinellas County and gave him an envelope with 10 $100 bills, 2 $50 bills, a personal check for $1,000 and a Westshore Pizza gift card.

According to the latest filing, Graziano told the confidential informant that part of his motive for wanting to have his wife killed was to take control of his son's guardianship.

Graziano's son, John, was seriously injured in a car crash with Nick Bollea and was involved in a lawsuit to procure funds for his future care. That suit against Nick Bollea and his parents, Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea and Linda Bollea, was settled recently. The terms are confidential.

A judge is scheduled to hear the motion to dismiss in May.

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Edward Graziano tried suicide in jail transport van, court is told 03/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 1, 2010 8:56pm]
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