Man beats mother-in-law to death

New Jersey’s James Pica was angry at being the sole caretaker in his household.


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man beats mother-in-law to death
James Pica
(Essex County Prosecutor's Office)

The holidays are a time of year when folks can find themselves cooped up with relatives far longer than is palatable.

We’ve all been there. Tempers fray. Things are said. Doors slammed, and so on.

Still, there is no excuse for the brutal conduct of a New Jersey man who battered his elderly mother-in-law to death over the course of two days.

James J. Pica, 58, of Nutley, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Barbara Bezzone in the home he shared with her and Pica’s husband on Prospect Street, authorities said.

Pica told police he was sleep-deprived and angry about being the sole caretaker in his home when he beat the 84-year-old woman to death. As Pica assaulted Bezzone, his husband, the victim’s son, begged him to stop, authorities said.

Pica called 911 at 8:21 p.m. last Tuesday to report that he’d killed his mother-in-law and that her body was on the floor in the living room, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by police in support of the murder charge.

When officers arrived, they found Pica sitting on the porch with “visible injuries to his hands” and the woman inside with bruises on her face, head and body, authorities said. She died at the scene, according to the affidavit.

Pica told detectives he lived with his husband and mother-in-law in the home and that his husband also required Pica’s care.

“(Pica) said he was sleep-deprived from being the sole caretaker and that he had a bad temper,” the affidavit states. Pica admitted to hitting the woman in the head and body and that when she fell to the floor, he kicked her in the head, authorities said.

“Pica stated that he hit the (victim) some yesterday and that she had bruises from the assault,” the affidavit states. “He said he continued hitting her today.”

Pica told police that his husband had nothing to do with the beating and “was begging him to stop and call the police,” the affidavit states.

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