Judge rules it’s probable Arlington man was killed by ex-girlfriend’s lover

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Maryland man charged with brutally killing his lover’s ex-boyfriend laid in wait at his Arlington town house before strangling, shooting and stabbing the man to death, prosecutors said.

Judge Francis O’Brien heard testimony and evidence against Jitesh Patel, 42, of Woodbine, Maryland, in a hearing Monday. After hours of testimony, she ruled there is probable cause Patel killed 40-year-old John Giandoni in March 2018. Patel’s wife closed her eyes taking in the news, while Giandoni’s parents began to cry.

A medical examiner testified Giandoni was murdered; stabbed four times; shot twice including in the head; and asphyxiated with zip ties around his mouth. She found he was alive during the time his air supply was being cut off and he was being tortured in his north Arlington townhome.

The motive appears to stem from a complicated romantic web and it’s still unclear why prosecutors think Patel killed Giandoni in March 2018.

Giandoni’s sister, Jenna, testified that her brother had learned his ex-girlfriend had a baby and that the child was his. Giandoni told the judge the woman lied to her brother, telling him she was separated when she was still married and that she told her husband the child was his. She testified Giandoni and the woman were in a custody battle.

It’s unclear if the same woman was seeing Patel during this time, but digital forensic detectives analyzed her phone and found a text chain with Patel loaded with sexual innuendo.

“I’m crazy about you babe,” said one text from the woman to Patel, identified as ‘J’ in her phone. Another text read in court: “If you’re up, Id love to bring you coffee and sneak into your bed. Either or both.”

Some of the texts were exchanged in the days before Giandoni’s killing, prosecutors said. However, the defense argued there’s nothing proven in the exchange other than the two were having an affair.

The most incriminating evidence against Patel, the judge said, was the ballistics match between a bullet casing found in Giandoni’s body and the 9 mm pistol found in a safe in Patel’s home.

Working with Howard County detectives, Arlington County detectives searched Patel’s house in Woodbine, and found the pistol and ammunition in the locked safe. Two rounds were missing, they said.

A medical examiner ruled Giandoni was shot twice, though his body had three bullet wounds. She told the judge she believes one bullet went through his forearm and into his chest, leaving the appearance of two shots. The second shot was to Giandoni’s head.

His defense team argued the pattern on the bullet casing is common, and comes from a common gun. However the judge disagreed, “It’s not just coincidence when a gun is found and two cartridge casings are missing,” calling it an incriminating detail.

Surveillance cameras from Koons Toyota, neighboring Washington & Lee High School and a neighbor’s residence, show a dark minivan pulling into the parking lot near Giandoni’s town house and a suspect entering the unlocked home around 2:10 p.m. on March 15. Giandoni is then seen on the video arriving home at 4:52 p.m. and pulling out of the town house in the dark minivan 30 minutes later.

Prosecutors contend without being able to read the license plate, or identify the gender or race of the driver, that the man seen in the video is Jitesh Patel.

His defense attorneys, who argued they’re not getting proper access to the evidence, pointed out that given the grainy, distant video, it’s nearly impossible to say that Patel was the driver.

The case is now with a grand jury and the parties will meet again in court on Dec. 3.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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