SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A 91-year-old man accused of killing his stepdaughter in San Jose last year has died in custody while awaiting trial, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Anthony Aiello was arrested on Sept. 25, 2018, in a case that made headlines because authorities used information from the victim Karen Navarra’s Fitbit activity tracker in their investigation.
Aiello’s daughter Annette Aiello and other supporters last month held a news conference outside of the county courthouse in San Jose to call for his release from jail, saying his health was deteriorating and he posed no threat to the public.
Police had initially found Navarra, 67, after going to her home on Terra Noble Way for a wellness check on Sept. 13. The scene had been staged to appear as a suicide, and Navarra had a deep laceration in her neck. A knife had been placed in her hand, but evidence showed she died from another heavier weapon, prosecutors said.
Five days earlier on Sept. 8, Navarra’s Fitbit tracker registered her heartbeat spiking, then slowing to a stop. Aiello told police that he had briefly stopped by her home to give her pizza and she walked him out of the house.
After submitting the Fitbit Alta HR to the company’s headquarters to scrape its data, investigators found that Navarra’s heart stopped beating at the same time that surveillance footage showed Aiello’s car at the scene, according to court documents.
Investigators serving a search warrant at Aiello’s house near Alum Rock Park on Sept. 25 found clothing with splotches of blood and evidence of blood cleanup.
Navarra worked as a pharmacy technician at Regional Medical Center of San Jose, lived a solitary life and was not in a romantic relationship at the time, prosecutors said.
The district attorney’s office said Wednesday that the case against Aiello will be dismissed, as is standard protocol when a defendant dies before their case is resolved.
Aiello’s daughter could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.