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Lawyer For Suspect In Killing Of S.I. Groom-To-Be Says Client Acted In ‘Self-Defense’

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Redinel Dervishaj (middle) being led out of the 120th precinct by detectives on Friday, March 23, 2012 (credit: CBS 2)

Redinel Dervishaj (middle) being led out of the 120th precinct by detectives on Friday, March 23, 2012 (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The suspect accused of killing a Staten Island groom-to-be was arraigned Friday morning on a second-degree murder charge.

Redinel Dervishaj, 35, kept his head down and said nothing as he was led out of the 120th Precinct. He pleaded not guilty when he appeared before a Richmond County Criminal Court judge.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

Police say he stabbed 27-year-old Anthony Lacertosa to death in the midst of a brawl outside the Espana Restaurant in Annadale last weekend. Authorities say it was all captured on surveillance video.

Dervishaj’s court-appointed defense lawyer, Tom Reilly, said his client has a “Good self-defense case and will testify to the grand jury next week to tell his side of the story.”

“I believe there are several people, who were potentially attacking my client at the time,” Reilly told reporters.

Law enforcement sources, who have seen the surveillance video, say there may be a case for self-defense.

Dervishaj’s lawyer was also asked about his client’s alleged ties to violent Albanian crime factions.

“I don’t think that plays any part, in any type of — in whether or not he committed this crime,” Reilly said.

Lacertosa had been out with friends celebrating his engagement. He was due to marry his fiancee in November.

Police say Dervishaj is a friend of the restaurant manager, and came to back him up when they were overwhelmed, police say, by the sheer number of friends of Lacertosa.

When the manager cursed them for drunken behavior, Dervishaj is accused of stabbing Lacertosa during the fight, and running to a Chicago suburb.

Dervishaj was captured at a relative’s home near Chicago on Tuesday, just hours before Lacertosa’s wake on Staten Island. He flown back to New York Thursday night after he waived extradition.

Dervishaj served more than three years in prison for a 2007 shootout in Queens with two other Albanian figures.

“We will never get him back. Regardless of what happens with the investigation and everything, we will never get him back,” said Lacertosa’s brother-in-law Jamie Caruvana.

Lacertosa’s funeral was Thursday. Dervishaj was ordered held until his next court date on March 30.

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