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Cambridge woman charged in father’s death

By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / November 22, 2011

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MEDFORD- A Cambridge woman who told authorities that she squeezed her 62-year-old father’s neck before he fell dead Sunday morning is being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing.

Gylene Verna, 29, told officers that she had “a bit of a struggle’’ with Guy Verna after he struck her inside her Cambridge apartment during an argument about his behavior toward her 7-year-old son, according to a police report. Verna is charged with assault and battery on her father, who occasionally lived at his daughter’s apartment at 77 Elm St., according to Earl Howard, the defendant’s attorney.

Verna is due back in court next Tuesday. An autopsy is expected to be finished by that date. She faces a second assault and battery charge in allegedly striking a responding police officer. “I believe that a completed autopsy report will at least make things more clear as to where my client stands in regard to that death,’’ Howard said after her arraignment yesterday in Cambridge District Court in Medford.

Howard said Guy Verna may have had a preexisting medical condition. “My understanding is that he had open-heart surgery at some point,’’ he said. “There doesn’t seem to be any blunt-force trauma attributed to her.’’

Verna’s arrest marks the third time this month that a person has been charged in the Boston area in connection with the death of a parent. Donald Rudolph, 18, is accused of fatally stabbing his 50-year-old mother, older sister, and his mother’s boyfriend on Nov. 10 at his mother’s house in Weymouth. Rudolph had exhibited troubling behavior over the previous few years, including breaking into houses and punching a foster father. Later that week, Stephen Anastasi, 24, was charged with murder in the death of his father, John Anastasi, 60, in their Danvers home. Authorities say Anastasi hit his father in the head with a hammer several times and then, after injecting heroin and going out to buy more, returned to fatally stab him in the neck.

Police said Guy Verna was found dead on a bedroom floor. When officers arrived, the defendant appeared “completely detached and was unable to provide any information surrounding her father’s death,’’ said the police report. In a later interview, police said, Gylene Verna told them that her father had fallen. Later, she allegedly said that she had been talking with her father about concerns she had with his behavior toward her son.

The defendant told police that her father became upset during the conversation and struck her. She said she grabbed him by the neck and squeezed hard, holding it tightly for a bit. The officers said that as she demonstrated how she held her father, she clenched her teeth and scowled.

Brian Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com. Follow him on twitter @globeballou