NEW FAIRFIELD -- On an otherwise tranquil September night, Jeffrey Giuliano received a phone call from his sister who lived next door, saying that someone was trying to force his way into her home.
Just a few hours earlier, there had been a reported sexual assault during a home invasion, leaving the town frazzled and jumpy. No arrests were made, and it occurred to Giuliano that the suspect in that case may be lurking outside his sister's house on Meeting House Hill Circle, according to his attorney. So, he grabbed his handgun and dashed out into the night, investigators have said.
As Giuliano approached his sister's house, he saw a ski-masked figure groping around in the dark for the spare key she always kept on the front porch, said his lawyer, Eugene Zingaro. He said that his client called out to the figure "two separate distinct commands to cease and desist," with no response. Instead, the person turned and started toward Giuliano, holding what he thought was a gun, the attorney said.
Giuliano's private security training kicked in, Zingaro said, and he raised the gun and fired several shots. Then, he sat down on the lawn and waited for police, who had been called by Giuliano's sister.
The responding officers checked on the figure's condition: He was dead. When they peeled back his mask they discovered the victim was Giuliano's own 15-year-old adopted son, Tyler.
In the months since then, investigators have interviewed witnesses and pored over the family's Internet and phone records, Zingaro said, for any shred of evidence that might explain what Tyler was doing on his aunt's porch in the middle of the night.
In a town where the last murder occurred in 2002, the shooting has spurred a wave of speculation as to Tyler Giuliano's motives.
Zingaro said that Jeffrey Giuliano, who has since gone back to his teaching job, has not spoken about the incident to anyone outside of his inner circle and to detectives.
"The fact that he's back on a schedule brings some amount of normalcy to his life, although it's going to be some amount of time before (he really gets back to normal).
"The holidays bring with it a certain amount of sadness and joy ... he's still doing a lot of the first things without his son ... the first Saturday, the first Tuesday night," Zingaro said.
"Because, there is a faint possibility of charges, he can't speak in public about the incident," he continued. "If the state body decides he should be charged with any kind of crime, he is going to defend himself against those charges."
Investigators have returned the gun used in the shooting to Jeffrey Giuliano, his attorney said.
With State Police tied up with the investigation of the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook shootings, their probe of the New Fairfield case is likely to be delayed for months, Zingaro said.
While both shootings reignited the gun-control debate, Zingaro said it would be dangerous to draw any parallels between the two incidents.
"I don't think they could be more opposite. One was a justified shooting, in my opinion, by Mr. Giuliano. And the other was a horrific, tragic murder of 26 people," he said. "Mr. Giuliano was a lawful, responsible gun owner. When he retrieved his gun, he had to do so from a gun safe."