NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Outrage was erupting Wednesday as a man serving time for stealing a woman’s home in Queens was preparing for an early release.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the convicted squatter was sentenced to a year in jail. But a Department of Corrections law could set him free at the end of the month.
Jennifer Merin said she feels like she is being victimized again, after learning that the man convicted of virtually stealing her family’s Laurelton, Queens home is scheduled to be released four months early from jail for good behavior.
“If Darrell Beatty is released in April, he will have served less time in jail than he will have lived comfortably and illegally in my family home,” Merin said. “What kind of justice is that?”
In June of last year, Beatty pleaded guilty to forging a fake deed to take over Merin’s house. When Merin regained ownership of her home, she claimed Beatty had caused more than $80,000 damage to the home and destroyed $500,000 worth of family heirlooms.
A Queens judge sentenced Beatty to one year in jail and ordered him to serve every day of it. The judge reinforced the sentence in court on Wednesday.
But Beatty’s attorney, citing corrections law, said inmates serving a sentence of one year or less are only required to serve two-thirds time.
“He gets credit — four months’ credit for good time, and the only time that good-time credit is taken away is if there are infractions while he’s incarcerated,” said Beatty’s attorney, Scott Davis. “There have, to my knowledge, been no infractions at all.”
Legal experts said in New York, once a sentence is handed down, judges have no discretion to change it as long as an inmate behaves.
“Even if the judge says, ‘I sentence you to one year,’ corrections law kicks in and lets them out early if they’re eligible,” said attorney Stuart Slotnick.
“The convict’s rights are being considered before the victim’s rights,” Merin said.
While Merin’s fight to keep Beatty behind bars is apparently over, she said her efforts will not be in vain – and she may channel her energy into finding a way to change the law.
The Department of Corrections said it is reviewing the court proceedings from Wednesday. Beatty is projected to be released on April 30.