A judge in Arlington General District Court on Monday (19) ruled that it’s probable Jitesh Patel may have killed his girlfriend’s former boyfriend.
Patel is believed to have broken into John Giandoni’s townhouse in Ballston on March 15 and shot Giandoni to death.
“It’s clearly a case of circumstantial evidence,” Judge Frances O’Brien said, according to The Washington Post. But certain pieces were “certainly incriminating,” she added, pointing out that a gun found in Patel’s home safe matched bullets from the crime scene.
“It’s simply not coincidental,” she said.
Patel, 42, a resident of Woodbine, Md., was charged with murder only four months after Giandoni’s death.
Giandoni’s sister Jenna testified on Monday that her brother met his former girlfriend through work. Although they became close, their’s was a “tumultuous relationship.” Giandoni’s new girlfriend reportedly lied about being separated from her husband and also lied to her then-spouse about the child she and Giandoni had in 2013, Jenna said.
“He had fought a long battle to gain custody,” Jenna testified. “They had a strained relationship.”
The female started dating Patel, a married father, sometime following the custody battle.
On Monday, a surveillance video played in court from the afternoon of Giandoni’s death that showed a dark minivan parked by the victim’s townhouse about 2 pm. The video shows someone exiting the car and going inside the building.
Giandoni arrives three hours later and half an hour later, the figure is seen leaving the townhouse.
In May, after several weeks of surveillance, police officials searched Patel’s home where they found a safe with a 9-millimeter pistol inside. They found eight boxes of cartridges. Seven were full but one was missing two bullets, officers testified in court.
One bullet was found behind a smashed candle on Giandoni’s kitchen counter, and the other was found in his body.
A firearms examiner testified that the bullets matched Patel’s gun.
“The evidence in this case, while circumstantial, is very strong,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Andy Parker said in court.
The case will now move to a grand jury.