ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The New York Supreme Court has stopped the release from prison of convicted cop killer Herman Bell following a petition by the widow of one of the slain officers.
Bell had been granted parole to leave prison on April 17 prior to today’s filing by Diane Piagentini, the widow of one of the slain officers.
In 1971, Bell and two others lured officers Joe Piagentini and Waverly Jones and to a building in Harlem where they assassinated them.
Bell is serving a sentence of 25 years to life, but after nearly 45 years in prison and being denied parole seven times, was granted parole on Feb. 18, 2018.
“There are some crimes so heinous that those who commit them forever forfeit their right to freedom,” said Diane Piagentini in her filing to the court the vacate the Board of Parole’s decision. “Herman Bell was convicted after the death penalty was declared unconstitutional and before the sentence of life without parole was instituted. The judge and prosecutor at his trial made it clear that he should never get out of prison.”
The approval of Bell for parole sparked outcry by family members of those killed as well as the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
In a statement by the PBA, Piagentini expressed her anger about the parole board’s decision.
“(Bell), and many horrible cop-killers like him, who would have been put to death before it was struck down or would have been given life without parole if they committed the same crimes today, shouldn’t be freed because of coincidental timing. I hear talk of rehabilitation from politicians but I don’t hear talk of murderers being held accountable for their horrible crimes and I never hear even the mention of punishment for their crimes. Herman Bell denied his crime for four decades. Now, to meet parole requirements, he has admitted his role in the sadistic murder of my husband Joe. He should suffer the torment of knowing that he will spend the rest of his natural life in prison for that crime, just as our family has forever been denied the blessing s of having Joe with us. That is a punishment that he has earned and he deserves. I implore Governor Cuomo to direct his Parole Board Chairwoman, Tina Stanford, to follow the laws regarding parole and to understand that releasing cop-killers undermines the law, disregards the intentions of the sentencing judge and sends the wrong message to society. Parole may be appropriate for some who have committed crime, but it is not for cold-blooded cop-killers.”
Previously supporters of Bell, including one of the murdered officer’s own son, say the killer has served his time and now deserves to be set free.
“The fact is Mr. Bell has taken responsibility for his actions, expressed sincere remorse, is 70 years old and has been in prison for 45 years – in this time of increased hate, we need more compassion and forgiveness,” said Robert Boyle, Bell’s attorney, reading a statement last month on behalf of Waverly Jones Jr.