New York Daily News: QUEENS – A deranged Queens dad, in the moments before slamming the accelerator to run down his estranged wife, delivered a chilling messages to his three sons: “Everyone keep your seat belts on,” prosecutors alleged Wednesday.
The boys then watched in horror from their seats inside the speeding SUV as their father Stephen Giraldo, an MTA bus driver, plowed into his helpless wife before jumping from the Ford Explorer to stab her after the collapse of a troubled 13-year marriage described by the victim as “toxic,” authorities said.
“I hit my wife, arrest me,” the suspect told police in an admission caught on body camera footage, according to prosecutors. Minutes earlier, the 36-year-old Giraldo had dialed 911 to confess “I think I killed my wife,” prosecutors said at a Queens Criminal Court arraignment where the accused killer was ordered held without bail.
Victim Sophia Giraldo was left in a vegetative state and may not survive after her husband loaded their kids into the car and lay in wait for her to appear on the dark street outside her Flushing home at 5:20 a.m. Tuesday, officials said.
“The brutality of the attack, and the fact that it was committed in full view of the victim’s three young children, stirs heartbreak and outrage in all of us,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Prior to the pre-planned assault, the husband was caught on video moving a trash bag impeding his path before slamming into Sophia Giraldo as she was headed toward the white Ford Explorer. The impact sent her sailing over a nearby fence before the suspect climbed over his oldest son with the knife in his hand to continue the attack, said Assistant District Attorney Audra Beerman.
The accused attacker had lured Sophia Giraldo from her home to pick up the youths and drove into her as she crossed the street to see her sons, said Beerman.
The wife, a domestic violence survivor, was fighting for her life Wednesday after the wild early Tuesday morning attack witnessed by the couple’s kids outside her Flushing home. Sophia had filed for divorce only four months earlier.
A criminal complaint recounted the seat belt instructions delivered to the boys, aged 11, 9, and 6, with the horrific details provided by the suspect’s eldest son. A knife was recovered about 15 feet from the vehicle and police found the victim covered in blood, officials said.
The oldest boy watched from the front seat, with his siblings sitting in the back of the vehicle, said the prosecutor. The defendant took the three kids out of vehicle before dialing 911, said Beerman, and the car skidded to a stop on its side after running down the victim.
The 41-year-old Sophia, who hosted a podcast on domestic violence where she shared details of her troubled marriage, remained in critical condition at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Queens one day after the attack.
According to the complaint, the victim was stabbed in the chest and suffered a broken femur, a broken fibula, a punctured liver, a leg laceration and severe neurological damage during the savage attack.
Giraldo, in a white Tyvek suit and stubble on his bald head, appeared at a Queens court hearing where defense attorney Mary Beth Anderson said her client had no prior arrests before asking for the suspect’s placement under suicide watch and protective custody.
Judge Scott Dunn issued a full no-contact order of protection for the hospitalized wife and the children.
The victim described herself in an Instagram bio as a survivor of domestic violence and hosted the “Unfiltered and Free” podcast where she shared tales of what she called her toxic and abusive marriage. The couple was married in 2009 but the new bride soon realized the couple had problems, she recounted in an episode just two months ago.
The victim finally filed for divorce earlier this year, court papers show, and a Facebook post indicated she and the three boys had moved into a domestic violence shelter in 2019.
“I spent a long time in the thick of emotional unrest, a lot of toxicity, a lot of abuse,” she recalled in one episode. “One of the things I thought was ‘Am I willing to let my children grow up in toxicity just to have a male in the home?’”
Stephen Giraldo was arrested Tuesday and charged with attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child.
The suspect was suspended without pay from his job as an MTA bus driver pending an investigation, authorities said.
Top Feature Photo: Sophia Giraldo