A man is facing the rest of his life behind bars for knifing a man to death in Brooklyn after meeting him on a gay hook-up app.
The alleged killer, though, had no idea the victim was also under investigation for sex assault.
In April, David Haigh of Pennsylvania traveled to Brooklyn to meet James Johnson. The pair met through an online dating and chat app called “Jack’d.”
But Haigh, 42, was unaware that the 41-year-old Johnson was under investigation by the NYPD for criminal sex act charges stemming from an attack nine days before, the Daily News has learned.
“An unnamed victim indicated that what started out as a consensual encounter with Johnson quickly turned into a nightmare,” according to a motion filed by Haigh’s defense attorney, Thomas Andrykovitz, requesting bail be considered.
On the weekend Haigh was hanging out with Johnson, the men went back to his Fort Greene apartment. At some point, Haigh felt threatened, and he admitted to repeatedly stabbing Johnson in his chest and body, according to the criminal complaint.
Prosecutors charged him with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in prison.
People who knew Johnson were struggling to make sense of the crime.
A distraught neighbor of the 41-year-old victim said she's haunted that she heard his desperate cries and didn't call police.
"I just feel bad because I was hearing him screaming," said Wanda, who declined to give her last name.
Police found Johnson Sunday morning with multiple stab wounds and a knife sticking out of his chest, officials said.
"He was screaming out, 'help me!' " Wanda said, her voice shaking as she held back tears. "I heard them throwing things because these walls are thin and early in the morning you can hear everything. I panicked."
According to Wanda, Johnson had lived in his apartment since November 2014. She described him as a quiet man who was never seen in public without his two dogs.
She said it sounded like the dogs may have been hurt during the bloodshed Sunday.
"The dog was crying in pain,” she said.
Nicole Velazquez, a neighbor who lives one floor above the victim, said Johnson adored his two small pooches.
"The only time I ever saw him was when he was walking his dogs," Velazquez said. "He loved his two dogs. They were his babies."
She said both were taken away by authorities after Johnson was killed.
"They looked so scared," she said.
"He was a quiet person, so it's just so tragic," she added. "I'm just dumbfounded. He didn't deserve that at all."
The sister of Riotto-Haigh was equally baffled.
Tricia, who only gave her first name, said her brother made a frantic call to her from the hospital, saying, "He came at me with something. I'm not sure what it was."
Riotto-Haigh, who appeared to be high on drugs, had cuts on his hand and a broken finger when cops arrested him, sources said. He was taken to Brooklyn Hospital, where he was sedated because he seemed to be hallucinating and was convinced people were there to kill him, the sources said.
"He said he had to defend himself. He said the guy was on top of him, beating on him," Tricia said. "He said he reached for the first thing he saw. I'm in complete shock right now. This is not anything I ever expected."
Riotto-Haigh, who described himself as a former model, had been staying with her in Philadelphia as he tried to get an interior design business off the ground. He came to New York for the weekend to hang out with a friend from Westchester County, she said.
"He is by far not a violent person. He is sensitive and sweet," she said. "This is blowing me away."