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Man indicted in double slaying

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Dec. 2 -- An Albanian immigrant was charged Monday with gunning down a pregnant woman and her father-in-law in an affluent Westchester County town, and may face the death penalty. Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro said Joseph Rukaj, 37, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the September shootings of Rigaletta Nikc, 31, and Marc Nikaj, 58, in their Chappaqua home. Pirro said Rukaj went to the home trying to kidnap one of Nikc's young daughters. Rukaj apparently believed he was the child's father, but Pirro said he was mistaken. 'There was a long-standing dispute,' Pirro said. 'He went there with the intent to take a child to whom he had no legitimate claim.' Rukaj confronted Nikc, who was two months pregnant, outside her home around 8 p.m. on Sept. 11, police said. When she refused to give him her daughter, Rukaj allegedly shot Nikc in the head, then pumped two more bullets into her as she lay on the driveway pavement. Nikaj, her father-in-law, ran out to help the dying woman, but Rukaj allegedly shot him three times before he could get to her. Police said that Nikc's husband was hiding in the house with their two daughters at the time of the shootings, but Pirro said Monday that it was not clear where the man was at the time. Rukaj was arrested after he showed up at the New Castle police headquarters with a bullet wound to the chest. Pirro did not say how Rukaj was shot.

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He remains hospitalized in stable condition. 'Given the fact that there are several counts charging first-degree murder and that the grand jury determined that Rukaj did not act in self-defense, it makes this a capital-eligible crime,' Pirro said. She has 120 days under New York's death penalty law to decide whether to seek death of life in prison without parole. 'This is a case that will have long-standing consequences for the children, who will have to go through life without a mother or a grandfather,' Pirro said.

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