A Lynbrook man was arraigned Tuesday in Nassau County criminal court in Mineola on grand jury indictment charges for the attempted murder of a former business partner in front of her Long Beach home in December 2016.
According to the district attorney’s office, Ralph Keppler, 27, was arraigned before Acting Supreme Court Justice Patricia Harrington. He is facing charges of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted of the top count, Keppler faces up to five to 25 years in prison.
Keppler is accused of attacking Theresa Kiel, now 55, on Dec. 4, 2016, at 5 New York Ave., and repeatedly striking her in the head with the handle of a metal barbell. The attack caused catastrophic head and brain injuries. Kiel, who was a principal and teacher in the Malverne School District for more than 30 years, has been in a coma and vegetative state since the attack, and lost her right eye.
Keppler, who worked as a New York City corrections officer, was arrested at Rikers Island by members of the Long Beach Police Department on Jan. 24. He was fired by the Department of Correction soon after.
“Theresa Kiel was robbed of all quality of life when this defendant allegedly shattered her skull with a metal barbell as she walked to her Long Beach apartment,” District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a release. “This barbaric attack, allegedly motivated by a business dispute and perpetrated by a man employed as a corrections officer, has left Ms. Kiel in a persistent vegetative state, and prosecutors in my office are committed to holding this defendant accountable.”
Tom Liotti, an attorney for Kiel, said last month that Keppler had invested $350,000 with Kiel to develop an app for college students. Keppler was attempting to get his money back, which Liotti claimed was a motive for the attack. He also noted that Keppler was dating Kiel’s daughter, Francesca, and lived with her in Rockville Centre.
Deputy Bureau Chief Veronica Guariglia of the district attorney’s Special Operations, Narcotics and Gangs Bureau is prosecuting the case. Marc Gann, Esq., a criminal defense attorney based in Mineola, is representing Keppler.
Keppler’s bail was set at $1 million bond or $500,000 cash. He is due back in court on Feb. 26.
Anthony Rifilato and Bridget Downes contributed to this report.