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  • Brian R. Monahan

Dismemberment case creates a challenge to “bail reform”



Press conference unveiling bail reform change.

After District Attorney Ray Tierney brought forward charges against four suspects who allegedly dismembered two human corpses, there was an air of outrage from local officials as the four suspects were released without bail.

 

Pointing to the heinous nature of the crimes, local officials from both sides of the aisle in the county legislature, County Executive Ed Romaine and police union leaders urged a change to bail laws to make the criminal concealment and mutilation of a human corpse a bail eligible offense at a recent press conference.

 

“I represent the district of Babylon,” said legislative presiding officer Kevin McCaffrey,” where these first body parts were found, and I can tell you first-hand the fear that everyone felt in that community.”

 

“And that fear turned into anger when they found out that the people who were arrested for doing that were let out without any bail,” elaborated McCaffrey, noting the pitfalls of the current law.  

 

The charges also prompted a sparring of words between the governor and Suffolk County’s district attorney and legislation filed in Albany by the Republican minority.

 

Made on Fox 5’s Good Day New York program, Gov. Kathy Hochul said: “Maybe the DA should have done a more thorough investigation and brought murder charges, or conspiracy to commit murder, or even assault charges because all of them are bail eligible.”

 

Tierney responded shortly after stating she was “either completely clueless or being deceitful about how the criminal justice system works.”

 

He further commented that “Prosecutors have a duty to bring only charges that are supported by evidence. Anything else would be unethical,” while noting that Suffolk detectives are still investigating the case.

 

“Did the governor want the police to leave them out despite having evidence that they cut up and disposed of two bodies? continued the district attorney.

 

The legislation prompted by this incident (S.8751) would make the concealment and dismemberment a Class E felony and bail-eligible offense.

 

While the Republican delegation offers this as a solution to “rectify” their criticisms of the law and has been successful at repealing limited aspects of bail reform in the past, the Senate majority does not share their enthusiasm.

 

“This horrible situation should have resulted in the suspect being held on bail, and it is disturbing that the District Attorney chose to charge these dangerous suspects with appropriate bail-eligible charges,” said Senate Majority spokesperson Mike Murphy, in agreement with the governor. “This has nothing to do with any criminal justice reforms, and any attempts to say it does is purely for political gain and scaring the public. Suffolk County, like many communities across New York, remains one of the safest places in America, and we will continue to legislate on facts, not local blame games.”

 

Given Republicans’ position in both chambers, this legislation will require significant support from across the aisle.

 

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