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Victim’s family gets $10M settlement

Mother of Altoona native filed civil lawsuit against daughter’s killer

An Erie County judge has approved a settlement of

$10 million to the estate of a former Altoona woman who was murdered by her husband in March 2018.

The victim, Amanda Elizabeth Schmitt, 31, a school teacher, was married to John Grazioli of Erie for only six months, when on the morning of March 8, 2018, he took a handgun and shot his wife while she was in bed.

She died instantly of a head wound.

Grazioli, then 44, left a suicide note at the scene of the killing that read, “I killed Amanda Schmitt Grazioli. I killed myself. I am profoundly sorry.”

But he did not kill himself.

Instead, he placed the family dogs in the cellar and went to a restaurant where he ate lunch, had a beer and then went to nearby St. Peter Cathedral where he confessed his crime to a priest.

Police arrested him at the church, and in the pocket of his coat found what they believed was the murder weapon.

During Grazioli’s 2019 trial, the defense contended the gun was a birthday present for Amanda and that it went off by mistake, and also posed that Grazioli was possibly under the influence when the killing occurred.

The prosecution argued that Amanda’s death was a “cold, calculated murder.”

Grazioli was sentenced to life plus 10 to 20 years and he remains incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview near Bellefonte.

Amanda Schmitt was the daughter of Thomas Schmitt of Altoona and Denise Katz of Lake Ariel.

After the killing, Katz filed a civil lawsuit against John Grazioli, and last week Erie Common Pleas Court Judge Stephanic Domitrovich entered a judgment of $10 million against Grazioli.

The attorney for Katz and her daughter’s estate, Adam S. Barrist of Media, stated the award “is one of the largest reported settlements of any kind in the history of Erie County, Pa.”

While the money remains to be collected, Barrist hoped the settlement will deter future acts of violence by those who, while not caring for people, do care for their money.

In a prepared statement, Barrist said, “John Grazioli didn’t have much trepidation firing the bullet that killed his wife. He even went to a bar afterward and calmly enjoyed his lunch and a beer before confessing to a priest.

“However, it took him over three years and being on the precipice of the civil trial to authorize this settlement.”

Neither Tom Schmitt, Amanda’s father, and Denise Katz, know if there is any money to collect on the award.

But Barrist is confident that money is out there somewhere. He noted John Grazioli was the president and CEO of Grazioli Asset Management and had control over a billion dollars in investments.

Amanda was a 2004 graduate of Altoona Area high School where she played soccer.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading specialization from Slippery Rock University.

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