Victims' Families Upset Suffolk District Attorney Couldn't Make Murder Stick

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — No murder charges were filed Tuesday against the wife accused in connection with Long Island’s pharmacy murders.

Instead, Melinda Brady pleaded not guilty to upgraded robbery charges, while prosecutors revealed how she allegedly helped her husband, reports CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

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PHOTOS: Medford Pharmacy Massacre

Clearly upset, two dozen grieving family members walked stoically from the courtroom, where moments before a disheveled and thin Brady, her shoulder’s drooping and hands cuffed behind her, was formally indicted by a grand jury for her role in the robbery that resulted in the execution-style mass murders inside the Medford pharmacy on June 19.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports: Upgraded Charges For Melinda Brady

“People who have lost their loved ones, when we tell them we cannot charge a ‘murder,’ they were obviously very, very disappointed in that fact,” Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

The district attorney said although charges were upgraded to a violent felony — robbery in the first degree, which is punishable by 25 years in prison — there wasn’t proof. Brady denied knowing her husband, David Laffer, was armed with a gun and planned to massacre four innocent citizens while stealing prescription painkillers.

“We cannot legally prove that she knew that her husband was armed with a deadly weapon when he went into the store,” Spota said.

Since the very beginning Brady has blamed only her husband. Brady stunned observers by seeming to implicate her husband by saying “He did it. He did all of this.” She made the statement in June when leaving Suffolk police headquarters.

“He was doing it because he lost his job and I was sick. I’m sorry he did all of this,” she said.

Brady said in a police statement that while she and her husband plotted the Father’s Day robbery at Haven Pharmacy in Medford, she did not know the plan involved killing.

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The unsealed indictment outlined new specifics: Brady was indeed behind the wheel of the getaway car. She helped provide an alibi following the murders, where the couple was seen on a convenience store videotape purchasing beverages. They allegedly hid 1,000 of the stolen hydrocodone pills in the base of their kitchen blender box and flushed a stash of others down the toilet. Police also recently found the missing barrel of the murder weapon buried in the suspects’ Medford backyard.

LINK: Read The Felony Complaint Against Melinda Brady

“Drugs do things to them … and he’s not in his right mind,” a neighbor told McLogan.

Spota said Brady helped her husband with his disguise, adding police have discovered video of Laffer throwing his backpack used during the crime, as well as some of his clothing, into a dumpster behind a motel, and tossing pill bottles into a trash bin in the back of a bank.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall: Victims’ Families Wish She Was Charged With Murder

While the victims’ families remained quiet Tuesday, their neighbors said the charges against Brady should have been more severe.

“I was looking for first-degree murder charges for her also,” one said.

“If she was driving the getaway car, she’s just as guilty as her husband,” added another.

Prosecutors deny Brady got any kind of deal due to her cooperation. They claim state law and the facts of the case prevent them from charging her with murder.

Brady was ordered held without bail. Her husband is also being held without bail. She had been jailed on $750,000 bail since she and her husband were arrested on June 22.

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If convicted of involvement in the massacre, what is the appropriate punishment in this case? Sound off in our comments section.