KIPS BAY, Manhattan (PIX11) — The accused killer of FDNY EMS veteran Alison Russo-Elling pleaded not guilty from his Bellevue Hospital bed in a video arraignment held Thursday.

An attorney for Peter Zisopoulos, 34, entered the plea on his client’s behalf one day after the first responder Zisopoulos allegedly stabbed to death in Queens was mourned by family, friends, and colleagues in a Long Island funeral.

Zisopoulos, who is charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon, has been held in the hospital’s mental health ward since shortly after the unprovoked Sept. 29 attack. Previously described by law enforcement officials as schizophrenic, Zisopoulos will undergo an examination to determine his mental capacity, as requested Thursday by his lawyer. His defense attorney said Thursday that he doesn’t believe Zisopoulos understands the charges against him.

Zisopoulos is accused of repeatedly stabbing Russo-Elling, 61, near her stationhouse in Astoria, then barricading himself inside his nearby apartment before he was finally arrested. Zisopoulos allegedly admitted to the stabbing, prosecutors said in a criminal complaint that also cited video surveillance footage as evidence.

He was ordered held without bail, and scheduled to appear before a judge again on Nov. 29 to discuss the results of the examination.

“This is a tragic case and a devastating loss for the family as well as our city,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz in a statement issued Thursday. “FDNY EMS Captain Alison Russo-Elling spent her 25-year career helping others in their time of need. Now, her family mourns her passing because, as alleged, the defendant brutally stabbed Ms. Russo-Elling to death near her
workstation in Astoria. Our condolences go out to the family, friends, and colleagues that she leaves behind.”

Zisopoulos’ attorney declined comment ahead of Thursday’s arraignment.

The virtual appearance before a Queens judge came one day after Russo-Elling was laid to rest on Long Island and posthumously promoted from lieutenant to captain. Though relatives of the 9/11 first responder spoke during Wednesday’s funeral of the brutal way in which Russo-Elling died, they also remembered her as a caring and loving person, asking that that be her legacy.

“Any hate in your heart created from this sudden calamity, I need you to remove that,” said her daughter, Danielle Fuoco. “I need you to replace it with love. We have been given this opportunity to reflect on all the amazing accomplishments she had achieved.”