The Queens man who allegedly stabbed veteran EMS Lieutenant Alison Russo-Elling to death last week has been indicted on murder charges, prosecutors announced Thursday.
Peter Zisopoulos, 34, of 20th Avenue in Astoria faced Justice Ushir Pandit-Durant inside a Queens courtroom, but he did so remotely. Zisopoulos appeared on Zoom from Bellevue Hospital, where he is currently being held after not being medically cleared to stand trial in person.
Zisopoulos watched the proceedings wide-eyed with a phone glued to his ear as he pleaded not guilty at the behest of his defense attorney.
A Queens grand jury handed down a two-count indictment against Zisopoulos, charging him with murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. Justice Pandit-Durant set up the next court date for Nov. 22. If convicted, Zisopoulos could face 25 years to life in prison.
The indictment was unsealed a day after Russo-Elling was remembered by her colleagues at an emotional funeral on Long Island. Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz called the slain lieutenant’s death “devastating” for the entire city.
“This is a tragic case and a devastating loss for the family as well as our City. FDNY EMS Captain Alison Russo-Elling spent her 25-year career helping others in their time of need. Now, her family mourns her passing because, as alleged, the defendant brutally stabbed Ms. Russo-Elling to death near her workstation in Astoria. Our condolences go out to the family, friends, and colleagues that she leaves behind. The defendant has been indicted on murder charges and faces justice in our courts,” Katz said in an Oct. 6 statement.
Russo-Elling was on her way to get lunch in full uniform on the afternoon of Sept. 29 at the corner of 20th Avenue and 41st Street. That’s where police said Zisopoulos allegedly retrieved a knife from his pocket and brutally stabbed the lieutenant 19 times, before leaving her for dead on the sidewalk.
He then reportedly barricaded himself inside his apartment before NYPD hostage negotiators were able to talk him out, at which point he was taken into custody.
Russo-Elling was posthumously promoted to FDNY EMS captain. The emotional Oct. 5 ceremony was attended by thousands despite the pouring rainfall, including Mayor Eric Adams and Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh. Russo-Elling was a 25-year veteran with the FDNY.