WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Fort Lauderdale man who admitted to dismembering his father's body and disposing of the remains has received the maximum sentence allowed by law.
James Scandirito II was sentenced Friday for abuse of a dead human body. He was convicted of the second-degree felony in March but acquitted of a first-degree murder charge in the 2018 death of his father, James Scandirito Sr., a retired Michigan judge.
The younger Scandirito testified during trial that his father died of natural causes, but because he had been drinking and doing drugs, he panicked and used a saw to dismember his father's body before burying the remains at an old golf course in Boca Raton.
Prosecutors argued that the defendant killed the elder Scandirito because he was nearly broke and stood to inherit his 74-year-old father's money.
Scandirito II testified that he found his father, who had heart problems, dead on the ground in the living room of his father's Boca Raton home. Instead of calling 911, Scandirito II used a hand saw he found in the garage to cut up his father's body.
He explained how he purchased a hand truck from Home Depot to move the body into the garage and chopped it up.
Next, Scandirito II said, he put the pieces into garbage bags in three suitcases, put them in the back of his father's SUV and drove to a defunct golf course. He said he opened the suitcases and dumped some of the remains into a construction dumpster, but he decided to bury the larger parts.
The elder Scandirito's torso and upper legs were buried in two pieces at the old Ocean Breeze Golf Club, but the head was never found.
Assistant public defender Elizabeth Ramsey asked Palm Beach County Judge John Kastrenakes for a downward departure in sentencing, seeking two years of drug offender probation or in-patient treatment.
"Mr. Scandirito's crimes are not the worst offenses and Mr. Scandirito is not the worst offender," Ramsey wrote in her sentencing memorandum.
Ramsey wrote that Scandirito II "needs help and rehabilitation," not prison time.
"There was little sophistication to the dismemberment and disposal of his father's remains," Ramsey wrote. "The simple separation of the body in order to move it was testified by Mr. Scandirito and apparently credited by the jury. Mr. Scandirito did no harm to his father's life and did not intend to desecrate his father. It was a drive to avoid consequences by a drug-addled mind that lead (sic) to his decisions."
But Kastrenakes disagreed, sentencing Scandirito to the maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison.
Kastrenakes also denied a second request by the defense to disqualify him.
Ramsey sought before the trial to have the judge removed because of his relationship with assistant state attorney John Parnofiello, whose wedding Kastrenakes officiated.
Scandirito II will receive 439 days of credit for time served. He is being held at the main Palm Beach County jail until next month's hearing to determine the cost of the criminal investigation.
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