Pa. Man Gets Probation, House Arrest for Estranged Wife's 2017 'Internal Decapitation' Death

Earlier this month, 36-year-old Antonio Vecchiola pleaded guilty to a single count of involuntary manslaughter

Jessica Vecchiola
Jessica Vecchiola. Photo: Facebook

A Pennsylvania man accused of murdering his wife in 2017 will spend the next year under house arrest after recently accepting a plea deal — one the victim's family says was entered into without their input or approval.

Earlier this month, 36-year-old Antonio Vecchiola pleaded guilty to a single count of involuntary manslaughter.

Vecchiola was arrested for criminal homicide in mid-2019, after killing his estranged wife, Jessica Vecchiola, the 29-year-old mother of two young boys, inside her Penn Hills home on Feb. 5, 2017.

Jessica's body was left in the home, and found the next day by her mother.

Antonio Vecchiola
Antonio Vecchiola. Allegheny County Police Department

The couple, authorities said at the time, were in the middle of a divorce, and fighting for custody of their kids.

Vecchiola avoids prison under the terms of the deal, which was approved by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kelly Bigley. Instead, he will be subject to electronic home monitoring for one year.

After that, he'll be placed on probation for five years.

Medical examiners struggled to determine what caused Jessica Vecchiola's death, eventually revealing she died from "Atlanto-Occipital Dislocation."

Also known as an "internal decapitation," an "Atlanto-Occipital Dislocation" is defined as the separation of the ligaments of the spinal column from the base of the skull.

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Jessica's sister, Felicia Lucot, spoke to PEOPLE about the plea deal, calling it a "gross miscarriage of justice."

Lucot alleges the plea deal was offered to Antonio Vecchiola, and he agreed to the terms. Afterwards, the district attorney's office called Jessica Vecchiola's family in for a meeting, where they were told her killer would not serve prison time. The family expressed frustration with the outcome, and were informed the deal could not be rescinded.

The Allegheny County District Attorney's Office did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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