Restaurateur who shot wife pleads guilty to second-degree murder

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published April 9, 2021

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A tentative plea deal may land a local restaurant owner behind bars for at least a dozen years.

On April 6, in front of Judge James Maceroni in Macomb County Circuit Court, Joseph Palleschi, 55, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the Jan. 19 shooting death of his wife, Karen, inside the couple’s home.

The admittance of guilt carries 12 years in prison, including an additional mandatory two years for possession of a firearm during the committing of a felony.

Under the proposed deal, Palleschi would be sentenced between 12 and 24 years — at the bottom of the sentencing guidelines.

Palleschi is the co-owner of Villa Restaurant on Gratiot Avenue, in Eastpointe.

Maceroni said during the virtual hearing that the plea will be either accepted or rejected at the May 18 sentencing date. A rejection of the plea deal could cause Palleschi and his attorney, Randy Rodnick, to reconsider or withdraw the plea and go to trial.

Rodnick said April 7 that the murder was not premeditated and that the plea took that into regard.

“It’s just second-degree because that’s what we worked out, what we agreed to,” he said. “I’d like to try to shave off a year (of a 14-year sentence), possibly. We’ll see.”

The defendant’s bond remains at $500,000 cash or surety. Rodnick made a motion to allow Palleschi to be released and be with his family, but as he put it, Maceroni “kiboshed” that motion.

“(The family is) pretty distraught,” Rodnick added. “It’s a tough situation to be in.”

No motive for the murder has been expressed in court proceedings.

On April 7, Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido called it a “very tragic case” in which “the family will never be made whole.”

He said his office must ensure public safety first and foremost, but also satisfy the aggrieved to begin the process of closure and healing. This particular case was an example of taking into consideration the feelings of the family members who have to pick up the pieces.

“(Palleschi’s loved one are) left with this burden; they’re left with sincere tragedy,” Lucido said. “And no one can begin to understand closure in a situation like this. And is there ever closure?”

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