Medford Pharmacy Massacre Suspect David Laffer Indicted On Additional Charges
RIVERHEAD, NY (CBSNewYork) – The suspect accused of killing four people at a Medford pharmacy was indicted Thursday on additional charges.
David Laffer, 33, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder and four counts of criminal use of firearms. He has pleaded not guilty.
Laffer was originally charged with only one count of first-degree murder and resisting arrest.
The five first-degree murder counts are for the deaths of the four victims and an umbrella charge for multiple murders, according to the indictment.
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If convicted, Laffer faces life without parole on the murder charges and up to 25 years on each weapons charge.
In a news conference Thursday, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said he will seek the maximum punishment for Laffer if he is convicted.
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“In my view, he should spend the rest of his life behind bars without ever seeing the light of day, without any hope in the future of enjoying even one day of freedom,” said Spota.
Spota then released new grisly details about the deadly Father’s Day shooting. Spota said Laffer had been looking for a pharmacy to rob for days before settling on Haven Drugs.
He said after then staking out the Medford pharmacy the night before, Laffer disguised himself using mascara, a fake beard, sunglasses and a hat.
Then, Spota said, Laffer was seen on surveillance video as he walked into the pharmacy on June 19 with a gun in a backpack. He started talking with pharmacist Raymond Ferguson and store clerk, 17-year-old Jennifer Mejia, Spota said.
Spota said the conversation between Laffer, Mejia and Ferguson could be heard on the video.
Mejia told Ferguson that on the previous evening, she and her mother had gone to the mall to look for a dress her mother could wear to her upcoming graduation ceremony, Spota said.
“We then hear [Mejia] telling Mr. Ferguson that she had attended Mass that Saturday evening. Those were virtually the last words that Ms. Mejia ever spoke,” said Spota.
Then Spota said Laffer put a backpack on the pharmacy counter “with his right hand in the backpack, most likely holding the .45-caliber weapon, the murder weapon.”
Spota said Laffer asked Mejia if he could speak privately with Ferguson. She then walked a few feet away and Laffer continued to talk with the pharmacist about different medications.
Then, Spota said, Laffer opened fire.
“Without any demand whatsoever for drugs or for money, he shoots Mr. Ferguson in the abdomen through the backpack,” said Spota.
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Spota said after Laffer shot Ferguson, he turned his attention to Mejia.
“In a second or two, we hear two loud shots,” said Spota. “She’s heard screaming. The killer has shot her twice, killing her.”
Spota said at this point, Ferguson was still alive and could be seen moving on the floor in the video. After shooting Mejia, Spota said Laffer went back to Ferguson.
“He looks at Mr. Ferguson, who is lying on his back, still moving and he walks over to him and at point-blank range, he shoots him twice in the face, killing him,” he said.
Spota said Laffer then started looking for drugs behind the counter when something got his attention.
“It appears to us that he sees someone approaching the pharmacy. He hurries to the front of the pharmacy and hides,” said Spota.
That’s when Spota said 71-year-old Bryon Sheffield walked into Haven Drugs and was shot execution-style.
“Mr. Sheffield walks into the pharmacy and we then see the killer coming directly behind Mr. Sheffield and shooting him in the back of the head,” said Spota.
Spota said Laffer then stepped over Sheffield and went back behind the counter and started stuffing his backpack with pill bottles.
That’s when Spota said Laffer got distracted again, because he apparently saw 33-year-old Jamie Taccetta walking up to the door.
Spota said Laffer ran to the front door and hid. As Taccetta walked in the store, he shot her in the back of the head.
“Not one person ever resisted,” said Spota. “Two of the people, Mr. Sheffield and Ms. Taccetta, never even knew that the killer was in the store. Yet he executed every single one of them in cold blood.”
Spota said Laffer then went back and forth between the pharmacy counter, filling his bag with prescription drugs.
He said Laffer then began using his sweatshirt to wipe away any fingerprints and “takes great pains” in wiping off the countertop.
But, Spota said, Laffer was seen touching a piece of paper that investigators say later linked him to the crime scene.
Laffer then took off and moments later, Spota said, Taccetta’s fiance walked into the store, screamed and called 911.
Taccetta’s fiance later identified Laffer as the man he saw leaving the pharmacy just after the shootings, said Spota.
As part of their investigation, Spota said police scoured the area for additional surveillance video that might lead to clues in the case.
He said about 30 to 40 minutes after the shootings at Haven Drugs, Laffer and his wife, 29-year-old Melinda Brady, were seen on surveillance video inside a nearby convenience store acting as if nothing had happened.
“We believe that they purposely did that. They knew there was a surveillance camera at the convenience store so they could set up an alibi,” said Spota.
Laffer and Brady were arrested at their home on June 22.
Police said they found 11,000 hydrocodone pills inside Laffer and Brady’s basement apartment and that the two were “obviously under the influence” of narcotics when they were arrested.
Spota said seven shell casings were also found at the crime scene and that all seven matched Laffer’s registered gun.
Laffer’s attorney, Mary Beth Abbate, said she believes Brady turned her husband into a drug addict.
Laffer has been held without bail in protective custody in the Suffolk County jail since his arrest.
Abbate denied that it’s Laffer in the surveillance images and said his fingerprints that were found at the crime scene weren’t fresh, adding Laffer was a frequent customer of the store.
“Fingerprints last forever if they’re not wiped off,” Abbate said.
But Spota said Laffer was seen touching that piece of paper on the morning of June 19.
“We see on the video that the defendant touches the paper and he leaves two tell-tale fingerprints, two separate prints of his left index finger which have been matched to prints that were taken at the time he applied for his pistol permit,” Spota said.
Further complicating Laffer’s defense are statements from his own wife, who told reporters last week “He did all of this. I’m sorry.”
Brady faces robbery and obstruction charges. Prosecutors said she drove the getaway car and helped plan the horrific crime.
Police have said she has cooperated with investigators, but Laffer’s attorney said Brady would say anything to save her own skin.
Prosecutors said she may also face additional or upgraded charges from a grand jury.
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