NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was a heart-wrenching experience for a Queens family Wednesday, as a loved one was arraigned in court on charges that he killed his own parents in separate attacks.

As CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey reported, police said the murders occurred more than a year apart, and were solved thanks to the very element that suspect Gregory Cucchiara received from his parents – DNA.

Cucchiara walked into court bearded, bulky, and accused of killing his parents, Giusepina and Carmelo. Looking on were heartbroken loved ones, numb at the betrayal by a member of their own family.

But Cucchiara’s attorney said his client is guilty of no such thing.

“He is presumed innocent. He maintains his innocence, and has throughout,” said defense attorney Michael Anastasiou.

Cucchiara’s family said his lifelong drug problem led to a dozen arrests over the years, and now to the double murders.

Investigators say in May of 2011, the 36-year old hit his mother in the head then drowned her in a bathtub of the Bayside home he shared with his parents. His DNA was found under his mother’s fingernails, something he didn’t seem surprised at when questioned by police.

Prosecutor Patrick O’Connor read a quote from Cucchiara during the investigation: “It’s funny that you have DNA evidence now. Where did you find it, under her fingernails?”

Police said it may have come from casual contact and never arrested Cucchiara at the time.

But suspecting his son had killed his wife, Carmelo Cucchiara got away from him, and moved another home in Astoria with his daughter.

But this past August, the 75-year old’s body was found in his new home, suffocated by a pillow. Once again, the son denied involvement but this time, police said the amount of Cucchiara’s blood and skin found under his father’s fingernails was more than casual contact, and they charged him with murder.

Prosecutors read a statement Cucchiara gave to police where he blamed his sister Francesca, who was in the courtroom’s back row holding back tears.

“She did not want any of the family assets passed onto me,” the statement said. “She devised a plan to make it look like I’m responsible for my father’s passing.”

Cucchiara, who was later charged with his mother’s murder, never said a word during his double murder arraignment. His family did the same as they left court – no doubt wondering what, if anything, could have been done to prevent such a loss of life.

Cucchiara is also charged with assaulting police while being questioned about the murders. He was indicted by a grand jury and was being held Wednesday night without bail.

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