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Crime & Courts

Michael Colucci Retrial: Can Prosecutors Finally Secure A Conviction?

Nearly a decade after Sara Lynn Colucci’s death, her husband is about to stand trial for the second time …

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A Lowcountry South Carolina jeweler is preparing to stand trial a second time for the 2015 murder of his late wife – while the Palmetto State’s top prosecutor is hoping his office can secure a conviction following an embarrassing mistrial five-and-a-half years ago.

Attorneys representing Michael F. Colucci of Summerville, S.C. are gearing up for the retrial – which is scheduled to start this coming month in Berkeley County. Colucci will be represented during these proceedings by veteran Charleston attorney Andy Savage and criminal defense lawyer Scott Bischoff.

Representing the state? The office of attorney general Alan Wilson, which handled the recent high-profile double homicide trial of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh. That case, like Colucci’s, almost exclusively involves circumstantial evidence. Assistant attorney general Joel Kozak and assistant deputy attorney general Kinli Abee will lead the prosecution.

The Colucci retrial has been docketed to start on Monday, May 13, 2024 at the Berkeley County courthouse in Moncks Corner, S.C.

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Michael Colucci (Berkeley County)

According to Colucci, his wife – 38-year-old Sara Lynn Colucci – took her own life by hanging herself with a garden hose on the afternoon of May 20, 2015 outside of one of the family’s jewelry stores located at 2206 N. Main Street in Summerville.

“Oh my God. C’mon, Sara. Please baby,” Colucci can be heard pleading on a 9-1-1 call, telling dispatchers his wife had turned “purple.”

Emergency medical technicians discovered Sara Colucci’s blue, cold, lifeless body on a cement slab next to a six-foot chain-link fence – a black garden hose wrapped around her neck. She had grooved wounds on her neck – and scrapes on her knees and one of her feet.

“My wife, my wife,” Colucci told first responders upon their arrival on the scene. “She’s gone.”

The cause of Sara Colucci’s death was determined as asphyxiation by neck compression. The manner of her death has never been established, however. At the time of her death, cocaine and Xanax were detected in her system – and her blood alcohol content was 0.23, nearly three times the legal limit. A single strand of her blonde hair was found at the top of the post where the garden hose was looped.

According to Colucci, the couple stopped by the jewelry store that night so his wife could use the bathroom. He claimed to have remained in the car – a Toyota Prius – which was parked just twenty feet away from the fence with the garden hose. The Prius had an unobstructed view of the fence and hose – and the concrete slab where Sara Colucci’s body was found.

When police arrived, Michael Colucci had a bloody, swollen lip – and scrapes on his hands and arms.

What happened?

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According to police, Michael Colucci’s narrative about the evening kept evolving. One particularly inventive explanation? That his wife had tripped while shimmying between the fence post and the building and “fallen into the hose.” He also changed his account about how long he had remained in the Prius before purportedly discovering his wife’s body.

Prosecutors seized on his proximity to the scene of her death.

“Does it make sense that Sara hung herself in broad daylight less than 25 feet away from the defendant?” Kozak noted in his opening argument during the first trial.

Initially investigated by the Berkeley County sheriff’s office, this case later fell to the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) – which ultimately arrested Colucci and charged him with murder on May 4, 2016.

According to a probable cause affidavit accompany the warrant for his arrest, Colucci strangled his wife – not the garden hose.

“Medical evidence collected from the victim found that she was not strangled with the mentioned garden hose,” the affidavit (.jpg) noted. “Furthermore, evidence collected from the scene the night the incident was reported contradicts the defendant’s version of events as relayed by witnesses and that the evidence indicates a fight or struggle ensued.”

Colucci’s first murder trial began in late November 2018. Ten days later – on December 7, 2018 – S.C. circuit court judge Deadra Jefferson declared a mistrial after jurors were deadlocked following two days of deliberations. Jurors indicated they were unlikely to find Colucci guilty of murder, but were instead arguing back and forth as to whether he committed voluntary manslaughter (i.e. a “crime of passion”) or was altogether “not guilty.”

(Click to View)

Sara Lynn Colucci (Provided)

According to Savage, Sara Colucci battled depression – and was particularly inconsolable on the day she died (which was the anniversary of the day her former husband had taken his own life). In fact, the couple had paid a visit to the gravesite of Sara Colucci’s late husband on the day of her death.

The Coluccis married in 2011. Both had daughters from previous marriages. The family was experiencing intense financial hardship at the time of Sara Colucci’s death – resulting in their electricity and water being shut off on several occasions and their home entering foreclosure. The couple’s drug and alcohol use allegedly escalated during this period, and they began distancing themselves from friends and relatives.

Adding a bizarre layer to the narrative, Michael’s father – Ivo Colucci – perpetrated a shocking act of violence in 2017 when he fatally shot his wife, Doris, inside the family’s jewelry store. Ivo’s mental state was deemed unfit for trial due to dementia, and he passed away in 2018 at the age of 84.

The Colucci retrial was originally scheduled to take place several years ago, but it was delayed due to Covid-19.

Stay tuned to FITSNews for comprehensive coverage of the latest developments in this ongoing saga …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Callie Lyons (Provided)

Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher, and author whose investigative work can be found in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world – most recently in the Parisian newspaper Le Monde and a German documentary for ProSieben. Lyons also appears in Citizen Sleuth – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.

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1 comment

Confused Confucius April 4, 2024 at 10:18 am

“According to Colucci, his wife – 38-year-old Sara Lynn Colucci – took her own life by hanging herself with a garden hose on the afternoon of May 20, 2015 outside of one of the family’s jewelry stores located at 2206 N. Main Street in Summerville.”

“According to Colucci, the couple stopped by the jewelry store that night so his wife could use the bathroom.”

“According to police, Michael Colucci’s narrative about the evening kept evolving.”

” “Does it make sense that Sara hung herself in broad daylight less than 25 feet away from the defendant?” Kozak noted in his opening argument during the first trial.”

” “Furthermore, evidence collected from the scene the night the incident was reported contradicts the defendant’s version of events as relayed by witnesses and that the evidence indicates a fight or struggle ensued.” ”

Gee, I can see how confusion might have allowed a deadlocked jury. Did this incident happen during the day or the night? Reading this, I kept having a line from an old 1960’s song that was popular then going through my head. The name of the song I believe was, “Going Out Of My Head Over You”.

Goin’ out of my head over you
Out of my head over you out of my head day and night
Night and day and night, wrong or right
Night and day and night
Wrong or right, day or night
Everyday, every, every day

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