Couple, charged in killing ex-husband, loses motion

A federal judge refused to dismiss an indictment in which a former Beacon couple faces the death penalty in the alleged carjacking and killing of the woman’s ex-husband, who disappeared after returning their daughters to a home on West Church Street. 

Steven Kraft disappeared in 2020.

Judge Philip Halpern, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, on Jan. 19 rejected a motion by attorneys for Jamie and Nicholas Orsini to dismiss the two charges they face — carjacking resulting in death and conspiracy to commit a carjacking — in the disappearance of Steven Kraft. 

The Marlboro resident has not been seen since April 28, 2020, after he returned the two daughters he shared with Jamie Orsini to her home following a custody visit.

The next day, Kraft failed to show up for his job at a deli in Marlboro, and on May 4, 2020, investigators found his 1999 Camry abandoned in the City of Newburgh. 

One of the earliest pieces of evidence was surveillance footage showing Kraft’s car crossing the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge on April 28. Nicholas Orsini is accused of being the driver, and prosecutors say they have camera footage of him at a gas station on Route 9W in Newburgh, where he allegedly used a burner phone to call a taxi to take him back to Beacon. 

Halpern said in his eight-page decision that the Orsinis’ contention that “the government has not alleged (and cannot prove) the required nexus between the intent to kill or harm Kraft and the taking of his car” was a matter to be determined by a jury at trial. 

His ruling leaves in place the more-serious charge of carjacking resulting in death, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment or death. (The conspiracy charge carries a maximum of five years in prison.)

Prosecutors revealed other evidence when they first charged the couple on June 16, 2023, alleging that they began plotting Kraft’s murder at least two days before he disappeared. 

Security footage and a receipt from the Home Depot on Route 9 in Fishkill showed Jamie Orsini buying, with cash, items that included a 10-foot-by-100-foot tarp, duct tape and a Tyvek suit and boots, according to prosecutors.

Video from the parking lot captured Nicholas Orsini helping Jamie Orsini load the supplies into the couple’s GMC Envoy, according to court documents.

That same day, according to the complaint, the pair drove to Newburgh to allegedly determine how to dispose of Kraft’s car. Data from their phones and video footage tracked the couple traveling from West Church Street over the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge to Newburgh.

Following Kraft’s disappearance, the Orsinis traveled “extensively” between Beacon and Amsterdam, in Montgomery County, where Nicholas Orsini’s family owns farmland and the couple lived before being incarcerated, prosecutors said. Nicholas Orsini drove to Amsterdam the day after Kraft disappeared, according to court documents.

The couple’s movements also show Nicholas Orsini buying from the Home Depot in Fishkill two 31-gallon galvanized steel trash cans, an angle grinder and ax, three bottles of charcoal lighter fluid, a flame lighter and 16 bundles of firewood, prosecutors said.

He is also accused of using Google to search the term “is galvanized steel fireproof,” and the couple allegedly rented space at a storage facility in Middletown, according to court documents.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

The Peekskill resident is a former reporter for the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, where he covered Sullivan County and later Newburgh. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Morgan State University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of Expertise: General.

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