Families give victim impact statements in Sampson retrial

BOSTON (WHDH) - Family members of the two men murdered by Gary Sampson in Massachuestts took the stand Thursday to give victim impact statements.

Gary Sampson killed 19-year-old Jonathan Rizzo and 69-year-old Philip McCloskey in 2001. His third victim, Robert “Eli” Whitney, was killed in New Hampshire. Sampson admitted to the murders and was sentenced to death but a judge declared a mistrial due to juror misconduct.

Rizzo, a college student, was stabbed to death in Abington after he picked up Sampson, who was hitchhiking. His brother, Elliot, was 12 years old at the time and cried in court as he recounted his mother’s reaction when they were told a body had been found.

“We hear this blood-curdling scream. I laid down in the grass, I didn’t want to move,” said Elliot Rizzo. Another brother, Nick Rizzo, was 15 years old at the time and said he had always looked up to his older brother. Their father spoke outside court about his oldest son.

“He was a good kid, he did a lot of good things and I think he had a lot of promise and I think people should just know that,” said Mike Rizzo. His wife Mary told the court she begged to go to the spot where her son’s body was found because “he was my son. I just wanted to give him some love.”

Sampson’s other Massachusetts victim was Philip McCloskey, who was murdered in Marshfield after picking up a hitchhiking Sampson. McCloskey’s daughters addressed the court.

“He always wanted to give. He was very generous,” said daughter Charlene Murray. Another daughter, Cheryl Shea, got married a few months after her father was killed.

“He was not there to walk me down the aisle. It was very difficult,” said Shea.

The government has finished questioning witnesses and the defense will begin its case on Monday.

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