The Record (Bergen County, NJ)
Janury 26, 2015
BY: PETER J. SAMPSON
A Washington Township teenager indicted last month in the December 2013 stabbing death of his sister pleaded not guilty Monday during his arraignment on murder charges in state Superior Court in Hackensack.
Defense attorney Kevin G. Roe entered the plea on behalf of his client, Travis Gallo, who was 17 at the time of the fatal stabbing of his 20-year-old sister, Teia Gallo, in their home on the day after Christmas. A judge last year ruled that Gallo could be tried as an adult.
Gallo, now 18, appeared in court in an orange jail-issued jumpsuit and was shackled at the wrists and ankles. He is “anxious about his situation,” Roe said after the brief hearing, which was attended by the defendant’s adoptive parents and a sibling.
No plea offer has been extended by Bergen County prosecutors, Roe said, adding it is too early to say whether the case will go to trial or be resolved by a plea agreement.
“Certain affirmative defenses will be raised in the case bearing on his mental capacity at the time of the incident,” Roe said. He declined to elaborate at this time.
Gallo was indicted Dec. 3 on first-degree murder charges in connection with the Dec. 26, 2013 slaying. If convicted on that charge, he could face 30 years to life.
Gallo is also charged with possession of a weapon, a kitchen knife, with the purpose to use it unlawfully against the person of another, and concealing or destroying evidence by washing blood off his hands and the knife, and “trying to hide the knife” to hinder his prosecution.
Superior Court Judge Liliana S. DeAvila-Silebi scheduled the next court date for March 2.
Gallo, the victim and one of their younger brothers were the only ones at the Pershing Avenue residence when police received a 911 call from the sibling reporting that his sister had been stabbed.
Police said Teia Gallo was stabbed numerous times with a knife that the defendant had taken from the kitchen. The attack appeared to have been motivated by an argument between brother and sister, authorities said at the time.
Teia Gallo, a 2011 graduate of Paramus Catholic High School, was attending Dominican College in Orangeburg, N.Y., majoring in athletic training, at the time of her death.
The defendant's father, Robert Gallo, an obstetric gynecologist, and his wife, Terrie, have nine biological children and had adopted Travis, Teia and Teia's sister as babies.