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State officials pass blame after Long Island body parts suspects freed without bail

State officials are pointing fingers after four suspects arrested in connection with body parts found throughout Long Island over the past week were freed without bail on Wednesday.

“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 [those charges] are bail-eligible,” Gov. Kathy Hochul told local media, according to a transcript posted online by the governor’s office.

Steven Brown, 44, Jeffrey Mackey, 38, Amanda Wallace, 40, and Alexis Nieves, 33, were charged with hindering prosecution, tampering with physical evidence and concealing a human corpse — then set free on supervised release while awaiting trial.

Their arrests followed the discovery of arms, a leg, a head and other remains from two unidentified victims in Babylon’s Southards Pond Park last Thursday. Body parts believed to belong to the same victims were also located Tuesday in a wooded area of West Babylon and in Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale.

After the suspects were sprung, Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney blamed the New York State Legislature for 2019 “bail reform” prohibiting law enforcement from holding the foursome on “charges related to the mutilation and disposal of murdered corpses.”

Hochul fired back that might not be the case if the district attorney’s office were more aggressive in pursuing the charges she recommended.

“I encourage the DA’s office to go back and build your case, because if you bring any of those charges, which I think would be appropriate, that’s absolutely bail-eligible,” she said. “Those people would not be out on the street.”

But the district attorney’s office took exception with the governor’s claims Thursday.

“Governor Hochul is either completely clueless or being deceitful about how the criminal justice system works,” the DA wrote in a statement. “Prosecutors have a duty to bring only charges that are supported by evidence. Anything else would be unethical.”

Tierney defended his office and investigators for quickly taking the four suspects into custody and collecting evidence as prosecutors continue to solidify their case.

“It would be helpful if the governor confined her comments to subjects she knows something about,” the DA said.

Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney speaks at a news conference to announce the identity of a victim investigators had called the "Jane Doe No. 7," as Karen Vergata, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, in Hauppauge, New York. Law enforcement authorities said Friday they have identified a woman whose remains were found as far back as 1996 in different spots along the Long Island coast, some of them near the Gilgo Beach locations of bodies investigators believe were left by a serial killer. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney speaks at a news conference Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, in Hauppauge, New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Hochul claimed proper execution of the state’s new bail reform laws requires an “education process” that includes judges and prosecutors learning to adapt to the changing landscape.

Louis Civello, vice president of the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, also took issue with the governor’s comments.

“Does the governor truly believe you should be able to conceal a human head in a park where children can find it and walk out free?” his office asked. “Instead of using this opportunity to fix New York’s reckless bail reform law, the governor decided to attack law enforcement.”

Hochul earned her law degree from The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law in 1983 and worked at a Washington, D.C. law firm before going into politics. She became New York’s first female governor in 2023.


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