The website DNAinfo ran a story on January 13 about a murder in NYC with the headline “Bitcoin Trader Accused of Murder.” The headline made it sound as if Bitcoin was somehow connected to the act.
The facts of the case are different. The only apparent link to Bitcoin is that the accused, Quentin Capobianco, an 18-year-old “teen” investor, had traded Bitcoin at some point. Capobianco is accused of bludgeoning his roommate, a 29-year-old attorney named Jesse Smith, with a hammer.
Cointelegraph contacted the Queens County District Attorney’s office this morning for comments. The source at the DA informed CT that Capobianco had been arraigned in District Court on Tuesday night on a charge of murder for the killing of his roommate. The contact office also said Capobianco is due to appear in court again on January 30, 2015, presumably for a pretrial hearing.
We also attempted to contact Capobianco’s attorney, Ronald J. Bekoff, but we were informed that Bekoff is in court for the entire day and could not be reached for comment.
Reports so far indicate that Bitcoin had nothing to do with the crime. Capobrianco’s statement was that his roommate “tied him up and forced him to liquidate his stocks.” There was no indication that the roommate attempted to force Capobianco to liquidate Bitcoin.
Reportedly the trader escaped his bindings, went to another room and retrieved a hammer, which he used on Smith. He also reported that Smith possessed a gun and that there was at least one other person involved in cooperation with Smith. Capobianco told police:
“I grabbed the hammer from the kitchen and hit Jessie three or four times until he was unconscious.”
According to another report in Newsday, which does not mention Bitcoin, Capobianco was studying economics at St. John’s University. His Linkedin page lists Jesse Smith as his employer and says that Capobianco was working as a paralegal. The two were said to have been roommates for only a few months.
There are a number of reports that contradict Capobianco’s story that his roommate held him hostage. Neighbors said that Smith was a mentor to the younger Capobianco, who like to imitate Smith’s style of wearing expensive suits. There were also reports that the two argued over what both alleged to be damage to the upscale Astoria apartment that they shared, and other reports that the pair argued about apparent use of heroin.
Other than the sensationalistic and irresponsible headline by DNAinfo, there are no reports that the murder, or any disagreement between the two men, had anything to do with Bitcoin. Even if Capobianco’s story is true and he was held hostage, there are no reports that cryptocurrency investments played any role. DNAinfo is not a Bitcoin or virtual-currency-related news website. Instead it focuses on providing local news in its area.
Tying Bitcoin to criminal activity is common in mainstream media, often when Bitcoin cannot legitimately be connected. The editors at DNAinfo lead a murder headline with Bitcoin, perhaps in attempt to attract more readers.
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