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James Rackover Sentenced For Murdering Stranger After Night Of Partying

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – James Rackover was sentenced Wednesday in the 2016 murder of Joseph Comunale.

Rackover, 27, was found guilty last month of beating and stabbing Comunale, 26, to death following a night of partying at Rackover's Upper East Side apartment, then burying Comunale's body in New Jersey.

He was sentenced Wednesday to 28 and 2/3 years to life in prison.

A second man, Larry Dilione, also faces charges in the case. He is expected to be tried early next year.

"James Rackover committed a brutal and unconscionable crime when he killed Joey Comunale and abandoned him at a makeshift gravesite in New Jersey," Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement following the sentencing. "The judge's sentence of 28 and 2/3 years-to-life in prison — the maximum permitted by state law — was the only appropriate sentence to address the pain and loss that Joey's murder inflicted on the Comunale family."

James Rackover and Lawrence Dilione
James Rackover and Lawrence Dilione in criminal court on November 17, 2016. (credit: Sam Costanza/POOL)

Police said Comunale, of Stamford, Connecticut, was at a club in Greenwich Village when he decided to leave with some people he had just met. The group then went to a party at Rackover's high-rise apartment.

At some point, violence broke out.

Prosecutors said medical evidence shows Comunale was beaten by two people and stabbed from both sides.

His father reported him missing after he never came home.

Joseph Comunale
Joseph Comunale was reported missing from Stamford, Connecticut after leaving for a party in New York City on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016 and not returning. (Credit: Joseph Comunale)

Sources told CBS2 police received a 911 call about a man dragging a suspicious trash bag out of Rackover's building. K-9 units found human blood on pants and sheets inside the apartment, and a luggage cart used to carry the bags to a car was collected as evidence.

After Comunale was killed, sources said the men tried to dismember his body in a bathtub before tossing it out a window. They then drove his body to Oceanport, New Jersey, where they burned and buried it in a shallow grave.

Prosecutors said EZPass and license plate readers traced Rackover's car to New Jersey the night Comunale went missing.

Last month, he was found guilty of all charges against him, including murder and concealment of a corpse.


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