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Monica Sementilli says she did not help plan the murder of her LA beauty exec husband. Will a jury believe her?

In 2017, Monica Sementilli had an enviable life — a luxurious house with a pool and a Porsche in the driveway — in a posh area of Los Angeles.

But after spending almost seven years behind bars waiting through legal delays and COVID, she is scheduled to go on trial for the murder of her husband, celebrity hairdresser and beauty executive Fabio Sementilli.

As “48 Hours” contributor Michelle Miller reports, it’s a tangled story. Her defenders say Monica Sementilli is an innocent victim. But if you believe prosecutors, she’s a criminal. Authorities describe a case of lust, greed, and murder. Whichever it is, the drama unfolded on Jan. 23, 2017.

Fabio and Monica Sementilli
Fabio and Monica Sementilli

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Elyse Bleuel: There were fire trucks outside of her house…and I was like, oh gosh … there was no police yet. It was just the first responders.

Elyse Bleuel was a friend of Monica Simental’s. “48 Hours” spoke with her in 2018. She says Monica texted her to come over the night Fabio was killed.

Elyse Bleuel: it was her and her daughters … She just kept saying that “he’s gone, that I’m not a wife anymore” … I just held her. I just held her.

Elyse Bleuel: It was so painful, just the weeping…the not being able to breathe…she was beyond devastated… beyond devastated.

Monica’s husband, Fabio, was slumped over his chair by the pool.

Michelle Miller: Had you seen the body? Had you seen?

Elyse Bleuel: Didn’t …

Elyse Bleuel: I just wanted to be the best possible comfort. …  I didn’t know how to comfort that. … she couldn’t speak in complete sentences until like the fourth day.

Detectives quickly learned the victim, Fabio Sementilli, had been a superstar in the beauty business.

Mirella Rota and Fabio Sementilli
Mirella Rota and her brother, Fabio Sementilli

Mirella Rota


“48 Hours” spoke with those who knew him best in 2017. Fabio’s sister, Mirella Rota

Mirella Rota: He was a happy man. And he wanted everybody around him happy.

Luigi Sementilli: The best way to describe my dad, really, is like a cup of coffee in the morning.

Luigi Sementilli is Fabio’s son from an earlier marriage.

Luigi Sementilli: He gets you going … he lifts your spirits … he gets you determined to charge the mountain of life.


Fabio Sementilli remembered as a “cool dad”

01:05

Michelle Miller: Did your friends say, “Hey Luigi, is that your dad?”

Luigi Sementilli: Absolutely, yeah. It was kind of a fun thing, you know. … It’s hard to avoid him when you type in Sementilli on Google, it’s very hard … in fact when you type in my name, Luigi Sementilli, the first thing that comes up is his profile! (laughs)

Fabio and his sister Mirella began cutting hair in Toronto, Canada. 

That’s where Fabio met Monica, a customer and makeup artist he married in 1997.

Joe Mercurio: The wedding was incredible.

Restauranteur Joe Mercurio grew up with Fabio. He was best man at Fabio’s wedding to Monica.

Joe Mercurio: We were dancing right to the very end.

Mirella Rota: We saw their relationship as a love story.

Fabio was also in love with his career — he and his sister Mirella were getting famous.

In 2008, Fabio was promoted to an executive job at the beauty giant Wella and moved his family to L.A. Pete Castellano was Fabio’s colleague.

Pete Castellano: What happened was was the opportunity … to really allow the things that he wanted for his family to come to life by taking on a bigger role.

He and Monica settled into a life most of us can only dream about.

Michelle Miller: He drove a Porsche.

Mirella Rota: Yeah.

Michelle Miller: What man doesn’t want a Porsche in Los Angeles?

Mirella Rota: You’re absolutely right.

They were living the life and raising their two teenage daughters, Gessica and Isabella.

FABIO SEMENTILLI (video): My own family unit is the most most dear to me.

Then came that January day. It was late afternoon as he sat by the pool. Fabio was stabbed to death. His then-16-year-old daughter Isabella discovered his body.

To investigators, the Sementilli case started out a mystery. But from early on, they had at least one intriguing clue.

sementili-hoodies.jpg
A neighbor’s security camera captured two hooded figures (upper right) jogging near Fabio’s house right around the time of the murder. 

From a neighbor’s security camera, they could see two figures in hoodies running close to the Sementilli’s house at the time of the murder. A little while later, Fabio’s Porsche was being driven away. Back then, Investigators didn’t suspect Monica had anything to do with Fabio’s death.  She wasn’t even home at the time he was killed. Instead, they looked at those two hooded figures.

At the time of Fabio’s murder in 2017, L.A was plagued with break-ins from notorious teams of criminals.

Michelle Miller (watching video of a knock-knock burglary): What do you call these guys? 

Det. William Dunn: Well, we call them the knock-knock burglars. 

Michelle Miller: So, this is LAPD footage?

Det. William Dunn: Yeah. They know what they’re doing, and they know what they want.

Michelle Miller:  I mean… they’re running wild!

They were hitting homes of celebrities all over Los Angeles.

CRIME SCENE EVIDENCE LEADS TO A SUSPECT

It was 2017, and, for years, the homes of L.A. celebrities were targeted.

LOCAL NEWS REPORT: At least seven celebrities had hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry taken.

LOCAL NEWS REPORT: High-profile victims include $300,000 from former Lakers star Derek Fisher, $175,000 for Nikki Minaj…and $2 million from Alanis Morrissette’s Brentwood home.

Det. William Dunn | LAPD (watching surveillance video of a knock-knock burglary): They’re moving just as quick as they can. 

Det. William Dunn: In and out in about three minutes … they ransack a bedroom, find some jewelry and get out.


What is a knock-knock burglary?

01:38

William Dunn, a Los Angeles Police Department detective at the time, had hours of videotape of the knock-knock burglars in action all over wealthy Los Angeles neighborhoods, including one from a home just a few miles from Fabio’s, months after his murder.

Michelle Miller (watching surveillance video of a knock-knock burglary): They seem to know what to look for.

Det. William Dunn: Right, they’re looking for jewelry. They’re looking for cash.

Michelle Miller: Look at him!

Det. William Dunn: Yeah, see he’s checking clothes, he’s feelin the clothes to see if somebody’s put jewelry or cash in some of the pockets.

Det. William Dunn: See? Now he’s seeing that safe.

Michelle Miller: Ah!

Det. William Dunn: See, and now he gets – he tells his buddy. Hey, look at what we’ve found. Now look at how many seconds, and this is a real heavy safe. … but they’re very determined … they put a lot of effort into it and it’s so heavy he can’t – he can’t lift the thing. But look at how he’s just gonna slide that thing out.

Michelle Miller: So they got the safe, that’s pay dirt, and off they go.

Det. William Dunn: They’re gone. Yup! You see? They’re gone.

To detectives, those two hooded figures recorded on a neighbor’s surveillance camera near Fabio’s house right around the time of his murder looked a lot like the knock-knock burglars.

And the Sementilli home had its own cameras. Detectives hoped they would find even more video of those hooded figures on those tapes.

There were four cameras outside the Sementilli house, but when police came to look for the video, it was gone! A DVR was in the garage, it stored all the surveillance. Whoever broke in must have taken it. 

Strangely, besides taking Fabio’s Porsche, that black box was one of the only things stolen from the house, say investigators. Monica told them she thought some inexpensive jewelry and $11,000 in cash was possibly missing, but she wasn’t sure. Detectives say the home safe hadn’t been touched. 

Luigi Sementilli: The only thing I thought that was unusual was why didn’t they take more?  Why didn’t they take his watch?

The suspected burglars left behind an $8,000 Rolex on Fabio’s wrist.

But within months, the knock-knock burglars began to fade as police suspects because the police were hanging on to a big secret. Nobody except investigators knew it at the time, but they discovered blood at the crime scene that did not belong to Fabio Sementilli. That meant detectives had DNA to work with. DNA that eventually led to a suspect.

Capt. William Hayes | LAPD: We were able to develop forensic evidence … some of that was DNA, which identified Robert Baker.

Robert Baker
As detectives began investigating Fabio Sementilli’s murder, they said they discovered DNA at the crime scene that belonged to Robert Baker. Baker’s DNA was in the database because he was a registered sex offender. 

Randy Lam


Robert Baker had been a racquetball league director at a Los Angeles gym, not far from Fabio’s house. And Monica’s friend, Elyse Bleuel, knew him. “48 Hours” spoke to her about him in 2018.

Michelle Miller: How would you describe Rob Baker?

Elyse Bleuel: He was cool. We all really liked him.

Elyse Bleuel: He was one of those gym guys — you know, grrr!

Bleuel played in his league.

Elyse Bleuel: He was very alpha. He was a very alpha male. There was also kind of a sexual-ly thing about him.

Michelle Miller: There was something sexual about him. What do you mean?

Elyse Bleuel: You know how some guys just have just have this sexual kind of, I don’t know, he was very manly … he was in shape, and he was kind of, you know, kept everything — he was in charge.

He was also tangled up in the porn industry, even doing some acting.

Bleuel didn’t know much about Baker’s background, but she did hear about his movie career from a friend who happened to spot him in an adult film.

Elyse Bleuel: That’s like the kind of gossip that … you just need to tell someone.

Michelle Miller: Who did you tell?

Elyse Bleuel: I told Monica.

Monica was also in Robert Baker’s racquetball league.

Michelle Miller: What was her reaction?

Elyse Bleuel: Well, it was pretty anticlimactic, I’ll tell ya.

Michelle Miller: Really?

Elyse Bleuel: Yeah. ’cause a lotta times when we would have girl talk she’d get a little prude-y.  Like a little prude.

What Bleuel didn’t know was that Baker was also a registered sex offender.

Capt. William Hayes: Robert Baker has a 1993 conviction out of a Long Beach case. It’s for lewd and lascivious acts with a minor.

Police say Baker served time for that offense against a teenage girl.

For months, police watched Baker and they discovered two things. First, he was definitely not one of the knock-knock burglars, and second, he made thousands of calls and texts to of all people, Monica Sementilli.

In fact, just days after Fabio’s death, Monica held a wake in her backyard and Baker actually showed up.

Michelle Miller: You did meet him?

Mirella Rota: I did.

Rota says she saw Monica hanging out with Baker.

Rob Baker and Monica Sementilli
Rob Baker and Monica Sementilli were photographed together at Fabio’s wake.

48 Hours


Mirella Rota: I saw her back … outside again, with a drink, smoking, and talking to this guy. … I found out that that was his name, Rob. And she introduced me to him.

Luigi noticed him, too.

Luigi Sementilli: Robert and Monica were in the corner talking to each other, sort of away from the party.

And there was something else Luigi noticed about Baker.

Luigi Sementilli: He had bandages on his hands.

baker-bandage.jpg
Rob Baker was photographed at the wake held for Fabio Sementilli at the hairdresser’s home. A bandage can be seen on the index finger of Baker’s left hand [inset]. 

48 Hours


One guest even snapped pictures of Monica and Robert Baker together. If you look closely, you can just make out a bandage on Baker’s finger. Police would later conclude Baker cut that finger when he killed Fabio. And that’s how his blood was at the scene.

Detectives visited Monica at home using what they called a “ruse” — telling her they were investigating the knock-knock burglars, when in fact they were investigating her and secretly following Monica and Baker. And according to authorities, it paid off. They say they found evidence that Monica and Baker were having an affair and conspired to kill Fabio.

JUSTIN EISENBERG | LAPD Chief of Detectives [to reporters in June 2017]: Over the past several months, investigators have developed information and identified Robert Baker, 55 years old of Canoga Park and Monica Sementilli, 45 years old, of Woodland Hills, who is the wife of our homicide victim, as responsible for his murder.

Mirella Rota: He said, “We arrested Monica for the murder of your brother, and Robert Baker for the murder of your brother.” And I was in shock. I’m like, “They’re — you sure?” You know? I — I was in shock.

Mary Fulginiti: According to the prosecution … these two were plotting and planning to kill Fabio so they could live their life together.

Mary Fulginiti is a former federal prosecutor and a “48 Hours” consultant.

Mary Fulginiti: It was a very complicated investigation.

Monica Sementilli and Robert Baker mugshots
Monica Sementilli and Robert Baker

LAPD


As authorities hustled Robert Baker and Monica Sementilli into court, they each pleaded “not guilty.” But almost six years later, Baker changed everything.

Mary Fulginiti:  When he came to court that day, people were stunned.   

ROBERT BAKER PLEADS NO CONTEST TO MURDER OF FABIO SEMENTILLI

Monica Sementilli was being accused of cheating on Fabio with that racquetball coach Robert Baker and then—along with Baker— planning Fabio’s murder.

Elyse Bleuel: My instant and thorough and complete reaction was there’s no effing way … I was there. She was decimated. 

After months of crying and grieving alongside Monica, Fabio’s family couldn’t believe it either.

Mirella Rota: Twenty-some years of my life she was like a sister. She was a cool aunt to my kids … she was loveable … my whole family felt that way about her (crying).

Then, in 2023, Baker skipped trial altogether and pleaded no contest.

Mary FulginitiRobert Baker pleads no contest.  And that’s in essence accepting responsibility for the murder. He’s ultimately sentenced to life without parole.

Robert Baker at his sentencing.
Robert Baker was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on July 7, 2023. 

KCBS/Pool


JUDGE RONALD COEN (in court): The maximum sentence in this case is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole plus one year. … You understand this?

ROBERT BAKER: Yes, sir.

But while Baker was accepting responsibility for Fabio’s death, Monica wasn’t.

MIRELLA ROTA (in court) : What he and Monica did to my brother, Fabio, is unforgivable.

But Monica’s own daughters, Isabella and Gessica, supported their mom.

GESSICA SEMENTILLI (in court): We will continue to stand by our mother as we have done for the last six years, and we will fight for her innocence.

As Monica prepared to go to trial, her defense attorney Leonard Levine made a statement.

LEONARD LEVINE: We are confident that Robert Baker’s guilty pleas and his truthful testimony will finally establish once and for all that Monica Sementilli had nothing to do with the planning or the murder of Fabio Sementilli, her husband.

Monica’s defense team wasn’t answering questions before trial, so “48 Hours” asked New York-based defense attorney Julie Rendelman to review Monica’s defense team’s pre-trial motions.

Julie Rendelman: There’s no witnesses that we know of so far that are going to come forward and testify that she planned this murder. 

Monica Sementilli
Monica Sementilli

Monica Sementilli/Instagram


She says Monica’s relationship with Baker doesn’t prove anything.

Michelle Miller: It seems to strengthen the DA’s case that not only did she have an affair, but the person she was having the affair with is the killer.

Julie Rendelman: I hear you, but the problem is — is that simply because an individual is having an affair, the — you cannot take the leap to get to an individual being responsible, um, for the death of their loved one, certainly not beyond a reasonable doubt.

But the prosecution says the affair is key to establishing a conspiracy between Monica and Robert Baker — an alleged conspiracy detectives spent months tracking.

Michelle Miller: How long was that investigation?

Mary Fulginiti: Five months. Five to six months.

While the DA also declined an interview before going to trial, former prosecutor Mary Fulginiti reviewed the case against Monica.

Michelle Miller (outside the Sementilli’s home): So, this is the scene of the crime?

Mary Fulginiti: Yeah … You know, this is where the two joggers, you know, came according to the video from a neighbor, uh, running up here toward the house.

Fabio Sementilli suspects
The murder suspects are seen on a neighbor’s security camera running towards the Sementilli home on Jan. 27, 2017 at 4:18 p.m. Police say Robert Bakee is in the green hoodie.

Prosecutors say that first hooded figure — in the green sweatshirt— is Robert Baker.

Michelle Miller: So, what about that accomplice?

Mary Fulginiti: We don’t know who that person is. … it’s a mystery.

Michelle Miller: What does this indictment say about Monica Sementilli?

Mary Fulginiti: This indictment is a very detailed outline and timeline of the plot to kill Fabio Sementilli.

Mary Fulginiti: Motive here is simple. I mean, this is love and money. This is one of the oldest crimes in the book where, you know, two lovers desperately wanting to be together, and they try to get rid of one of the spouses so they can be together for what? For financial benefit. … And that would mean the three quarters of a million life insurance policy, the house, 401ks.

Police say the plan was to stage the scene to make it look like the work of the knock-knock burglars and throw police off their trail. And they believe Monica was deeply involved.

Mary Fulginiti: They believe … she was the one that coordinated everything, the one that showed him, you know, where the house was, where the DVR was, so that he knew where to go to rip it out of the walls. How to get into the house.

And that’s not all. The prosecutor says six months before the murder, Monica forwarded an email sharing details of her home security system with Baker.

Mary Fulginiti: She provided the password, the username, the log in credentials, as well as the user manual to Robert Baker, the same day that she received it from the surveillance company.

And then there’s the day of the murder. Prosecutors say Monica’s behavior that day is a key element of her role in the conspiracy to kill Fabio. According to prosecutors, surveillance video shows Monica left home at 3:26 p.m. driving the family’s black Ford F-150 pickup.

Michelle Miller (standing in a Target parking lot): This is where she came, according to prosecutors, to establish her alibi?

Mary Fulginiti: So, a lot happens in this parking lot. … she pulls in here in her Ford-150 pickup truck right in front of this store … stops for just a few minutes.

Prosecutors say they have video where it appears an individual gets into Monica’s truck. They say that person was Robert Baker. Monica then goes alone into the Target store and begins shopping. But as she leaves, prosecutors say this surveillance photo shows her fixated on her phone.

They would tell a grand jury it appears she was streaming video from her home — a lot of it.

THE EVIDENCE AGAINST MONICA SEMENTILLI  

So what was Monica Sementilli watching on her phone that afternoon at about the time her husband was being murdered?

Mary Fulginiti. The phone records and data show that she’s connecting to a unique IP address. … It happens to be the IP address of the house. And there’s a large amount of data that’s being consumed. And that large amount of data is consistent with video streaming, i.e, the surveillance video of the house.

Surveillance video? According to the DA, it might have been video from her home security cameras.

But could Monica have been watching the actual murder?

Mary Fulginiti: No… The surveillance cameras in the house are — are facing outside, but they’re not facing in the pool area, which was where Fabio was located at the time. So, they didn’t actually capture the murder, but they would capture obviously who was coming and going.

Monica Sementilli at Target
Monica Sementilli is seen on store security video checking her phone at Target. 

Los Angeles County Superior Court


Monica could have been watching everything else, prosecutors say.

Mary Fulginiti (with Miller in the Target parking lot): They’re going to argue … she’s watching the scene, the scene of the crime to see the comings and goings of when Baker and the accomplice are going into the house, when are they leaving the house so that she knows when she can leave here and go home.

Prosecutors say while she is watching the feed, Baker and his accomplice were on the Sementilli property stalking Fabio.

Mary Fulginiti: According to the prosecution, “it was a very targeted attack that was done with the intent to kill.” They also go on to say that “he was stabbed in the neck, it cut his jugular vein, cut the carotid artery.”

And there’s more evidence of the plot to kill Fabio. Prosecutors say Baker was planning a future with Monica.

Mary Fulginiti: The DA says that about two months before the murder, Baker told a friend that he had been dating this woman for about a year, and that he sent a picture of that woman, and that woman was Monica.

Mary Fulginiti: And then two months later Fabio was killed.

Authorities also say Monica’s behavior after the murder is suspect. She didn’t move her teenage daughters out of the house or have her security system repaired.

Mary Fulginiti: And the prosecutors argued that the reason why she had no concern, because she knew who the killer was, and she was with him.

Mary Fulginiti: This is a woman who is pretending to be a grieving widow and making all these posts on social media.

Mary Fulginiti: Who at the same time is carrying on a torrid love affair with the man who actually killed her husband.

Prosecutors made explicit photos public in court filings. Some we can’t show you. They say its evidence the secretive romance continued after Fabio’s death.

sementilli-monica-baker.png
Monica Sementilli and Robert Baker photographed together in Las Vegas in March 2017.

Los Angeles County Superior Court


Mary Fulginiti: I mean, that’s a double life. … The D.A. presented a photograph of Monica and — and Baker to the grand jury. And it was a photograph of Monica actually grabbing his crotch. … And this was one, uh, that was taken in Vegas.

Michelle Miller: There was also this — this photo of a mirror.

Mary Fulginiti: Right. … it was a photo of the back of Monica … with Mrs. Baker, uh, written lipstick on the mirror.

Michelle Miller: The … lipstick and the mirror … What — what does that tell them?

Mary Fulginiti: Again, this all goes to motive. I mean, Mrs. Baker … she wanted to be Mrs. Baker.

But when detectives asked Monica about Robert Baker, prosecutors say she told them she wasn’t even sure of his last name. They say she also told them she wasn’t sure how to work the home security cameras.

Mary Fulginiti: To quote the prosecution here, they say, “She’s a liar, she’s a manipulator, she’s a cheater. And everything that comes out of her mouth has to be taken with a large grain of salt large enough so that you could choke on it.”

Mary Fulginiti: If they can show that Monica lied about her lifestyle, about the affair, about a variety of other things, that they’ll convince the jury that she’s also lying about her involvement in this conspiracy to kill Fabio.

And they say when she was later confronted about why Baker’s blood was found in her house, she continued to lie.

Mary Fulginiti: She comes up with some cockamamie story about, you know, playing racquetball with Baker and hitting him in the finger and that it was bleeding and there was a bloody towel and she had to bring it home and — and that’s why his blood was at the house.

But Fulginiti says one of the biggest pieces of evidence against Monica is what happened when police came up with a plan to secretly record the couple. It began when they pulled them over as they were driving.

Mary Fulginiti: It’s a ruse by the police. … They say that they think the car that they’re in is stolen and they wanted to, you know, just check it out and you know, probably isn’t and they handcuff them per protocol, put them into the police vehicle. But what they don’t know is that vehicle’s wired and that there’s a van up the street with police in it listening to their every word. And it’s at that point, Monica says, and I’m gonna quote here: “Somebody must have talked. Somebody is doing this to us.” And then she said, “They must have something. They must have something.”

Mary Fulginiti: That’s pretty damning evidence. … as a former prosecutor that is close to an admission to being involved in this conspiracy.

According to detectives, Monica was also recorded telling her cellmate, “He’s not just my lover … he’s my confidante … he’s my everything.”

Detectives also intercepted letters Monica wrote to Baker from behind bars saying, “I’m always amazed how we both know what the other is thinking. DESTINED!” And “I miss you so much my love!”

Mary Fulginiti: When you look at these pieces in the totality, it’s going to put together a pretty perfect puzzle here. And the puzzle will paint this picture that Monica conspired with Baker, that he did not do it alone, that they did it together.

But Monica’s defenders say the case against her is flimsy, and they say Baker did it without her.

Julie Rendelman: Robert Baker may have killed him because he wanted him out of the way. Maybe he did it because he hoped that by killing him, he would get Monica to himself. … That in and of itself does not establish that Monica was in on the murder.

DEFENDING MONICA SEMENTILLI

Monica Sementilli’s defense is adamant she had absolutely nothing to do with Fabio’s murder.

Julie Rendelman: The defense’s position is that there is no hard evidence, actually no evidence that establishes Monica Sementilli participated in conspiracy.

Monica and Fabio Sementilli
Monica and Fabio Sementilli

Fabio Sementilli/Facebook


And if you can’t prove a conspiracy, you can’t prove Monica’s guilt says Rendelman.

Michelle Miller: The sheer number of circumstances that seem to weave together— the parking lot meeting … the walking into the store and watching video that has streamed live from the home … the password being given to the killer … all of those things, the sum of them, wouldn’t a jury believe is just too much of a coincidence?

Julie Rendelman: Obviously, I can’t answer for what the jury is gonna say. Um, the defense, I could promise you, is going to attempt to poke holes — holes in every single piece of evidence you just spoke about.

Michelle Miller: So, let’s go step-by-step … the sharing of that password for the surveillance video.

Julie Rendelman: So, there is no question that she shared the password.

But Rendelman says there’s no connection between sharing that password and a murder plot.

Julie Rendelman: There’s absolutely no evidence between the six months that she shared it and the day he was killed, that establishes there was any plan in place between them whatsoever to have her husband killed, not a text, not an email, not a conversation with her best friend saying she’s over her relationship.

Julie Rendelman: The second issue is, there’s absolutely no evidence that Robert Baker downloaded the app or ever even used the app.

Michelle Miller: Let’s talk about the actions in the parking lot the day of the murder. … someone appears to be getting into the car.

Julie Rendelman: Keep a couple things in mind. One is from the defense’s perspective … the video footage is so grainy that you can’t make out who if anybody is getting into Monica Sementilli’s car.

And what about the allegation that she was watching video of the house as the murder took place?

Michelle Miller: Once she went inside the Target — there was a point in time where she seemed fascinated, fixated on her phone.

Julie Rendelman: Well, I’ll tell you one thing. The prosecution doesn’t know what she was watching on her phone. They cannot articulate nor will they ever be able to articulate what was going on in that phone.

Michelle Miller: But it was being streamed from her home.

Julie Rendelman: She could be watching a show, just like any one of us watched your show while we’re walking along.

Michelle Miller: The prosecution really digs in on Monica’s character, the fact that she’s having an affair.

Julie Rendelman: Well, let me quote what the defense says in —in regards to that. “The prosecutor’s evidence of Ms. Sementilli’s affair and specifically the sexist and lurid manner in which it was presented … was irrelevant, improper and unfairly prejudicial to Ms. Sementilli.”

Julie Rendelman: They go on and say, “the sexual and romantic details of their affair were simply irrelevant to the question, whether they conspired to murder Fabio Sementilli.”

But then why lie to investigators — allegedly saying she was unsure of Robert Baker’s last name?

Julie Rendelman: The question becomes, why is she lying? Is she lying because she committed a murder or is she lying because she has been in a tryst with someone for quite a while and doesn’t want the world to know particularly, law enforcement? 

Prosecutors did find it suspicious that on the night Fabio died, Monica was already inquiring about his life insurance. But Rendelman says it’s not odd.

Julie Rendelman: I understand, um, how it could look insensitive to start asking about a life insurance policy so soon after. But if you’re, uh, an individual that is not financially sound, you have two girls at home, you have potentially a mortgage to pay, you have bills to pay, you are going to be worried about the financial security of your family.

Monica Sementilli in court
Monica Sementilli’s trial is scheduled for April 2, 2024.  Gessica and Isabella, the daughters she shared with Fabio, are standing by their mother.

CBS News


And come trial, says Rendelman, what may really help Monica is that she won’t be tried with Baker.  The jury will not see the man who committed the actual murder at the defense table next to Monica.  And that could make the case harder for prosecutors, says Fulginiti.

Mary Fulginiti: The fact that he’s her lover and the killer, the one that the DNA’s around the house, I mean that — there is a spillover effect. And that all would’ve, you know, potentially impacted, I think, the jury in this case. And he’s no longer there.

Michelle Miller: Would you say it was his last gift to Monica?

Mary Fulginiti: Yeah, I would ’cause there’s absolutely no other reason for him actually to plead straight up, without any real plea bargain here, to life without the possibility of parole, except I guess his last murderous chivalrous act.

But it seems Baker may have an even bigger impact on Monica’s case. “48 Hours” went to see him in jail, and he told us Monica had nothing to do with the murder of Fabio and she never knew that he was Fabio’s killer. Baker also told us that he’s no longer in touch with Monica and he has not decided if he will testify.

Another factor that could help Monica, says Rendelman, the daughters Monica shared with Fabio are standing behind their mother.

Julie Rendelman: And so, there’s an argument to be made that the jury is looking at the daughter saying, “if they believe her after all this, shouldn’t we?”

Fabio Sementilli
Fabio Sementilli

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As for Monica herself, she’s never spoken publicly – except at a memorial for her deceased husband.  

MONICA SEMENTILLI (video from Fabio’s memorial):  How lucky am I to have lived the greatest love story of all time. A story that people only read about. A story that movies are made of. Thank you so much.

Monica Sementilli’s trial is scheduled to begin in April.


Produced by Chuck Stevenson. Greg Fisher is the development producer. Gabriella Demirdjian and Hannah Vair are the field producers. Michael Baluzy, Grayce Arlotta-Berner, Wini Dini and Chris Crater are the editors. Patti Aronofsky is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.

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