RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The Long Island couple arrested in connection with the execution-style murders of four people at Haven pharmacy in Medford, pleaded guilty Thursday.
David Laffer, 33, pleaded guilty to all charges of committing first-degree murder and robbing the pharmacy of thousands of prescription pills on June 19 — Father’s Day.
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The judge said he would sentence Laffer to the maximum allowable under the law and that four life sentences without parole will be served consecutively. Formal sentencing is set for Oct. 17. He was charged with five counts of first-degree murder and four counts of criminal use of firearms.
His wife, Melinda Brady, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery. Prosecutors asked for a 21-to-25-year sentence, to which the judge agreed. Her formal sentencing is also scheduled for Oct. 17.
Police said that she admitted to planning the robbery and driving the getaway car, but claimed she didn’t know the plan would involve killing.
The couple originally pleaded not guilty in June.
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said the guilty pleas will spare the grieving families from having to endure the drama of a drawn out trial.
“Potentially weeks of gruesome testmony, and the repeated playing of a video of the murders of their loved ones,” Spota said.
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After their arrest, Spota released details about the deadly Father’s Day shooting.
He said a surveillance camera captured the cold-blooded killing spree as Laffer, wearing a disguise, methodically fired off round after round.
Officials said the last two victims were customers who walked into Haven Pharmacy at the wrong time and didn’t even see Laffer before they were shot from behind.
Assistant District Attorney John Collins had called the shootings “the most cold-blooded robbery-homicide in Suffolk County history.”
Relatives of the victims were in the courtroom Thursday.
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Jamie Taccetta’s grandmother Mary Moran is relieved that this case won’t go to trial.
“That we won’t have to think of my granddaughter and the way she died,” said Moran. “Maybe we can go on and remember her the way she lived.”
“It was an emotional moment. It’s difficult to see the people who took the lives of your loved ones away,” Raymond Mallone, a relative of one of the victims, told CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan.
Laffer wanted to plead guilty to give the victims’ families some closure, according to his attorney Eric Naiburg.
“I think it was an appropriate thing to do,” said Naiburg. “I make no excuses for my client’s conduct. Obviously, there are no excuses that can be made for his conduct.”
“Forty years in this business, I’ve represented some pretty bad people and Mr. Laffer has now moved to the top three if not the top one,” Naiburg told McLogan.
Both sides said there were no plea negotiations in the case.
“Today, those pleas guarantee that Mr. Laffer will never see the light of day,” Spota said.
But some area residents weren’t thrilled with the guilty pleas.
“He needs to hang. He needs to hang, his wife needs to hang,” Medford homeowner Lisa Santiago said.
Others were amazed that Laffer, a person they knew, could be capable of such a heinous act.
“We went to school together. In high school, he dated a few of my friends. He was in ROTC. He was a good guy back then,” homeowner Dorothy Quinn added.
“You have to get on with your life. You can’t just lay down and let people like David Laffer take over,” fellow resident Linda Ratto said.
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