Army veteran sentenced to 25 years in death of wife
Naples Daily News, Fla.
At 7, he dialed 911 to tell police his mother had been shot to death in Phoenix.
At 9, he still smells gunpowder and hears the three rounds of gunfire that pierced Amanda Blaies-Rinaldi’s head and chest.
Last week, Blaies-Rinaldi’s oldest son gave an impact statement to the courts shortly before her killer was sentenced.
“He said that he had a hole in a heart and he couldn’t fix it,” said Pamela Blaies, the victim’s mother and child’s grandmother.
“He couldn’t get it back and that after she died he wanted to go to heaven and be with her.”
Anthony Rinaldi, 28, was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison after accepting a plea deal in Arizona for second-degree murder. Rinaldi, a former corrections officer and Army veteran, turned himself in after the 2011 killing of his wife. Rinaldi pleaded guilty two months ago.
Blaies-Rinaldi was a Naples native and Barron Collier High School graduate who worked at Roy’s restaurant and a Ritz-Carlton in Naples before moving to Arizona. She was 28 at the time of her death. She and Anthony Rinaldi met in Naples.
Neither Rinaldi nor his attorney were available for comment Monday.
However, Rinaldi told detectives he “snapped” as he and his wife were arguing and that his “military training kicked in” before gunning down his wife, states court records, the Phoenix New Times has reported.
“Unfortunately we weren’t happy with the sentencing but it is what it is,” said Blaies, who did not want a plea deal.
Blaies, 61, who spoke by phone from Arizona on Monday, calling her daughter a beautiful woman, a gourmet chef and a dedicated mother.
“Everyone who knew Amanda loved her,” said Blaies, who now has custody of her daughter’s two boys.
Blaies-Rinaldi and Rinaldi met in Naples and were married after a little more than two years. They shared a younger son, who is now 3. The older son who called 911 was not Rinaldi’s biological child. The Daily News is not naming the children because they’re currently in foster care as Blaies pursues adoption.
Blaies said Rinaldi was abusive toward her daughter and that years of mounting violence prompted her to move to Arizona with the family to provide a safer environment for her two boys.
Her daughter was finally “becoming happy again,” running a day care out of her house and moving on from Rinaldi when he tracked her down in Arizona.
“She was murdered in her home,” Blaies said. “She was putting up her Christmas tree.”
Rinaldi shot his wife in the garage three times after ordering the boys to go upstairs. The older son called authorities and Rinaldi fled, eventually stopping an officer he saw on the road to confess to the murder and surrender.
Blaies she the two children fear the day Rinaldi is released from prison, and often had nightmares of him breaking out of jail while he was being held for trial. The 9-year-old will receive free counseling until he turns 18 as part of the settlement, Blaies said.
“Now we’re looking at what do we have to face in 25 years when he gets out,” Blaies said.