Hochul, Suffolk County officials spar over bail reform in release of 4 body parts suspects

Suffolk County legislators from both sides of the aisle are calling for change to New York's bail laws.

Chanteé Lans Image
Thursday, March 7, 2024
Calls for changes to NY bail laws after release of body parts suspects
Chantee Lans has the story.

SUFFOLK COUNTY (WABC) -- Leaders on Long Island are calling for changes to bail reform laws after all four of the suspects arrested after the discovery of human remains are back out on the streets.

All four of the suspects are out on supervised release without bail in Suffolk County.

The PBA, legislators, and Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine all spoke out about the issue on Thursday.

They held a press conference in Hauppauge to condemn Governor Kathy Hochul's comments in defense of bail reform, and the fact that the four suspects were able to walk out of jail after court Wednesday afternoon.

"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. Maybe they brought it a little early," Hochul said. "I encourage the DA's office to go back and build your case. Because if you bring all of those charges, which I think would be appropriate, that's absolutely bail eligible. These people would not be out of the street."

Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney's outrage was on full display as he fired back.

"Governor Hochul is either completely clueless or being deceitful about how the criminal justice system works. Prosecutors have a duty to bring only charges that are supported by evidence. Anything else would be unethical. The Suffolk County Police Homicide Detectives are the best in the country, and they are working 24-7 on this case. For the Governor to criticize the efforts of these detectives without knowing any of the facts in defense of a broken bail system is both baffling and indefensible," Tierney said. "When law enforcement had enough evidence to arrest these defendants for serious felonies, they did the right thing and made those arrests. Did the Governor want the police to leave them out despite having evidence that they cut up and disposed of two bodies? The Governor's platform on public safety is laughably inadequate and she should know enough not to comment on ongoing investigations. It would be helpful if the Governor confined her comments to subjects that she knows something about."

The four were arrested by police after human remains were found in West Babylon and scattered throughout Long Island.

Steven Brown, 44, Jeffrey Mackey, 38, and Amanda Wallace, 40, all of Amityville, along with Alexis Nieves, 33, who is homeless, were all charged Wednesday with first-degree hindering prosecution, tampering with physical evidence, and concealment of a human corpse.

They have not been charged specifically with the killing of the two victims, so they were free to go until their next court appearances or if they face more charges.

The county executive and the police union say they are against the current laws.

"My reaction would be shocked, we have one of the best DA's in the state," said Ed Romaine, Suffolk County Executive. "And Democrats and Republicans will tell you that, both sides. When you are a DA, you can't charge people unless you have the evidence."

"This case highlights what we in law enforcement have been saying for years, our bail laws are not rational. When you can take a dismembered body and attempt to conceal it in a place that children play and then walk out of court scot-free, this is not rational," said Lou Civello with the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association.

Meantime, all four suspects received monitoring bracelets and have been ordered to stay in Suffolk County. They had to surrender any passports as a condition of their supervised release.

Police have not publicly identified the victims and their relationship to the suspects is still a mystery.

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