Defendant pleads guilty to murder

COVINGTON - A man accused of shooting and killing his stepfather at a residence on Island Shoals Road in July pleaded guilty to the charges against him at a hearing held Tuesday in Newton County Superior Court.

The defendant, Christopher Nicholas Masiello, 30, pleaded guilty to charges of murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and discharge of a firearm while under the influence in connection with the death of 56-year-old Paul Laren Larson.

For his crimes, Judge Eugene Benton sentenced Masiello to life plus an additional 25 years in prison.

According to NCSO Investigator Capt. Doug Kitchens at the time of incident, Larson became involved in an argument with his stepson, Masiello, who lived at the residence with him.

Masiello's mother, who was at the home while the argument was taking place, went to the house next door to call 911, at which point she heard several gunshots and went back home to find the victim lying in the hallway. By the time EMS workers arrived on the scene, Larson was already dead, Kitchens said.

In an unrelated case, Masiello also pleaded guilty to charges of arson, criminal damage to property in the first degree, attempted theft by taking, interference with government property, simple assault and two counts of obstruction.

In that incident, the defendant became involved in argument with his mother in March 2006 and poured gasoline throughout his own room, setting it ablaze, according to Assistant District Attorney Layla Zon.

At one point while the house was on fire, Masiello also reportedly pushed his paralyzed uncle off of a bed inside the residence.

According to Zon, Masiello will have to spend a minimum of 30 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.

Joel Griffin can be reached at joel.griffin@newtoncitizen.com