NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Is New York State becoming “pro-criminal?”
That’s the charge from leading state Republicans. Case in point, they say, the freeing of wife-killer Matthew Solomon this week.
“I was told Lisa went missing, she went out for a walk and never returned,” the victim’s cousin, Steven Klerk said.
Klerk can never forget Christmas 1987 when his cousin Lisa Solomon went missing. Her newly wed husband led search teams.
Web Extra: The Murder of Lisa Solomon
“Yeah, she’s alive. She’s alive somewhere and I’m gonna find her,” Solomon said three decades ago.
But days later, “I found my cousins face curled up in the bags,” Klerk said.
Solomon then confessed and was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison.
“Matthew strangled her and beat her head into the wall until she was dead,” the victim’s cousin explained.
Now 32 years later, he is free after being granted parole in what his victim’s family feels is a system that focuses more on criminal rights than their victims.
“What’s done with Matthew is done… we want to protect future victims.”
Sentiments seconded by the Suffolk PBA and New York Republicans, who are blasting what they call New York’s pro-criminal agenda.
They’re also citing a parole board that recently freed cop killers Herman Bell and Judith Clark.
Gov. Cuomo’s criminal justice reform also recently revoked cash bail in most arrests.
“Crimes such as criminally negligent homicide, assault, larceny are now akin to getting a broken head light ticket,” Suffolk PBA president Pat Saunders.
In response, Republicans’ has unveiled the “Victims’ Justice Agenda.”
Victim impact statements at sentencing would be recorded for review before granting parole. The time between parole hearings would increase from every two to every five years.
“We think it’s high time we go back and talk about the victims first. Recognizing every body’s civil liberties, due process, but never forgetting people like Lisa Solomon,” Republican leader John Flanagan said.
Senate Democrats bristled at the suggestion they’ve forgotten victims.
“Even yesterday we passed a slew of legislation to protect victims of domestic violence and sextortion,” Sen. Monica Martinez said.
CBS2 asked the governor for comment and the Department of Corrections responded; pointing out Cuomo’s parole board appointees who freed Solomon were all approved by the then Republican-led senate.
“The parole board is an independent body and the fact remains that — despite their best efforts to forget it — each member was vetted and approved by the same republicans who organized today’s presser,” a statement from DOCCS spokesperson Thomas Mailey read.
Solomon is living in Broome County as required by the conditions of his parole.