By Christy Strawser
FARMINGTON HILLS (CBS Detroit) Rose and Salvatore Cipriano spoke publicly for the first time four years after son and brother Tucker Cipriano led a vicious attack against his family, leaving his father dead and mother and brother permanently scarred.
Sounding strong and confident, Rose Cipriano praises Dr. Anthony Lemmo and his staff for hastening her recovery and enabling her now non-verbal son to walk again.
“Salvatore was in a walker and he had a feeding tube and he was having a hard time eating anything and he had a paralyzation on his left side also,” Rose Cipriano says in the video.
Referring to the crime that forever changed her family, Rose Cipriano calls it only “our tragedy.”
The video is about hope for the future, and it re-visits the work it took for Rose and Salvatore Cipriano, 21, to get where they are in their recovery.
Rose says for months before they came to the Dr. Lemmo Brain Centre in Windsor, Canada, her son Salvatore was doing therapy for hours every week, but having seizures, and still not walking.
“We were both athletes so we couldn’t figure out what to do next to get him to be more independent and to get him to get up,” Rose Cipriano says. “He wants to play baseball again, to possibly golf again.”
Though he can’t speak, Salvator is engaged during the talk, gesturing to his mom, writing notes to display on his iphone, nodding and using hand gestures.
“He was drooling, he couldn’t use his left arm very well or his left leg,” Rose says about her son before he started intensive recovery with Dr. Lemmo. Before that, he was under 24/7 home care.
“It’s very overwhelming,” Rose Cipriano says about Salvatore recovering the ability to walk.
Salvatore is now able to get out of the house, communicate with his iPhone and iPad and has better cognitive ability, Rose Cipriano said.
“I feel very blessed,” she said.
The interviewer winds up the interview by asking “Sal, what do you think?”
The young man who was nearly beaten to death as a teenager while his twin brother hid for his life in a nearby bedroom, gave a thumbs-up to the question.
“What’s the biggest benefit to you?” the interviewer asks about his rehabilitation with Dr. Lemmo.
The camera zooms into Salvatore Cipriano’s phone, where he has written simply: “That I can walk.”
A friend posted the video on Facebook, where it got a half-dozen comments of support. “God bless this family,” Ishak Boussi wrote.
While the survivors continue their recovery, the attackers including adopted son Tucker Cipriano, now 23, and his friend Mitchell Young, now 24, are spending life in prison. They were sentenced to mandatory life in prison for the April 16, 2012 murder of Robert Cipriano, 52, and brutal beating of Salvatore and Rose Cipriano.
Salvator’s twin Tanner Cipriano managed to hide out while Mitchell and Cipriano raged through the house with baseball bats.
Baby sister Isabella, then 8, was spared.
Cipriano and Young blamed each other for the attack, which prosecutors said started as a break-in for money to buy drugs. Prosecutors produced evidence showing the bloody night was premeditated, though the defense blamed drugs for making the pair act in a rage.
“With a long history of substance abuse, if the mind has deteriorated or he’s become mentally ill as a result of the ingestion of those particular products or those particular narcotics, voluntary intoxication is not what happened on that day. It’s mentally ill on that day,” defense attorney Mitch Ribitwer said.
“Involuntary intoxication is not a defense in Michigan, but we’re still in the process of researching what adverse effects Spice and K2 have on the mind,” he said. “And if those products could have made Tucker psychotic, then if he’s psychotic he’s mentally ill, and if he couldn’t conform his conduct to the law, then he might have been temporarily insane.”