Mr. Cali’s murder was the highest-profile mob killing in decades, an event so significant that in the days between Mr. Cali’s death and Mr. Comello’s arrest, speculation surged that a new war was brewing among New York’s five Mafia families.
The reality, according to his lawyer, appears to be even more bizarre: Mr. Comello had become convinced that Mr. Cali was part of the so-called deep state, a cabal of criminals that conspiracy theorists claim controls the United States government. Mr. Comello also believed he was a chosen vigilante of President Trump.
“Mr. Comello became certain that he was enjoying the protection of President Trump himself, and that he had the president’s full support,” Mr. Gottlieb wrote.
That delusion will be part of a package of evidence that Mr. Gottlieb says he plans to submit to the court that proves Mr. Comello is not guilty by reason of mental defect. Mr. Gottlieb is seeking to have the court place Mr. Comello in psychiatric treatment, rather than prosecute him on murder charges. Mr. Comello is being held in protective custody as he awaits trial. Anthony Comello had no intention of killing a mob boss. He wanted only to arrest him, his lawyer said in new court documents.
The details of what happened next are well known. Mr. Comello, 24, arrived at the home of Francesco (Franky Boy) Cali, a leader in the Gambino crime family, and lured him outside. The men spoke briefly. Then prosecutors say Mr. Comello pulled a gun from his car and shot Mr. Cali, leaving him to die in the street.
Mr. Comello, an aimless young man who lived with his parents on Staten Island, was arrested three days later and charged with murder.