Groton murder suspect turned over to U.S.

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Dante A. Hughes, who is accused of fatally shooting Joey Gingerella in Groton on Dec. 11 and attempting to flee the country, has been deported from Canada and returned to U.S. officials, according to a spokeswoman for the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board.

Hughes, 30, was detained by Canadian border officials when he attempted to enter the country via the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, Ontario, on Dec. 13. The bridge, open to vehicle and foot traffic, connects Niagara Falls, N.Y., to Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Based on his criminal record, which includes convictions for weapons and drugs, Hughes was deemed inadmissible to Canada and ordered removed from the country. He was determined to be a flight risk and held in custody while awaiting a second detention review hearing, which was scheduled for Tuesday.

The hearing was canceled because Hughes has been removed from Canada, according to Anna Pape, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board.

"He's back in the States," Pape said by phone Tuesday afternoon. 

She said the Canada Border Services Agency would have turned over Hughes to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. She said he would be delivered to state or local authorities in upstate New York, who would hold him as a fugitive from justice.

Groton Town Police eventually are expected to retrieve Hughes and charge him with murder, but as of Tuesday evening, it was unclear when that would take place.

"The police department is working through the U.S. Marshal services and with state and local authorities in upstate New York to facilitate his return to face arraignment here in Connecticut," Chief Louis J. Fusaro Jr. said.

It is unclear whether Hughes would have an extradition hearing in New York. Should he waive extradition and agree to be brought back to face the murder charge, he could be returned to Connecticut within days. If he fights extradition, the process could take longer, since the New London State's Attorney's Office would have to obtain what is known as a governor's warrant to bring him back.  

The town police obtained an arrest warrant for Hughes' arrest after he allegedly shot Gingerella, 24, when Gingerella tried to stop Hughes from assaulting a woman outside Ryan's Pub. Gingerella died of gunshot wounds to the extremities and torso.

Mourners packed the auditorium of Fitch Senior High School on Saturday at a service for Gingerella, who had been a champion wrestler and standout baseball player and who was known affectionately as "Jo Jo Nice." Gingerella had gone public in March 2015 about his struggle with pain pill addiction, and his parents founded Community Speaks Out, a nonprofit organization that helps other families struggling with opioid addiction.

k.florin@theday.com 

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