HARTFORD — Charges against the woman accused of killing her 23-year-old boyfriend who she said repeatedly threatened to kill her and her children were increased from manslaughter to murder on Thursday.
Bail for Angela Grasso-Cunha was also increased to $2 million during her appearance in Superior Court.
Grasso-Cunha had previously posted $750,000 through the company she works for, Capital Bail Bonds. Judge Joan Alexander required that the new bond be posted at court and that it be reviewed by a judge before she’s released.
Grasso-Cunha said Jose Mendez, 23, whom she had been dating for a few weeks, accused her of cheating and repeatedly threatened her life and that of her family as they rode in his car, according to a West Hartford police report.
In his statement to the judge about increasing the charges, state prosecutor Tom Garcia said that continuing investigation, including video that police viewed during the hour prior to the shooting, indicates that she wasn’t threatened and that she had opportunities to get away from Mendez.
In light of that, her story “rings very hollow,” Garcia said.
Grasso-Cunha’s attorney, Walter Hussey, said the video is misleading because the situation escalated immediately prior to the shooting, in the period after the video that police viewed.
“There was an explicit threat – I’m going to kill your children – that’s what changed,” Hussey said.
There was a heavy police presence in the courthouse. Friends and supporters of the Mendez stood and left after Grasso-Cunha’s appearance.
His brother, Victor Mendez, said they were satisfied with the bail increase and feels the murder charge better represents what happened.
“She executed an unarmed man,” he said.
He said her version of what happened didn’t ring true and that she had opportunities to get away from his brother if she felt threatened.
By David Owens, Hartford Courant
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