By Michael Weissenstein, The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) - Slumped in a wheelchair in a courtroom packed with mourning police
officers, the man accused of slaying two veteran detectives with one of their
pistols pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges Monday afternoon.
The Brooklyn district attorney's office could not seek the death penalty for
Marlon Legere, 28, because of a June ruling by New York's highest court that
found a key element of the state's death penalty law was unconstitutional, prosecutor
Kenneth Taub said.
Outside the courtroom in downtown Brooklyn, police union officials said the
killing of Detectives Robert Parker, 43, and Patrick Rafferty, 39, cried out
for the death penalty, and they called on the Legislature to amend the law to
"The death penalty should have been in place," said Patrick Lynch,
president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. "We have to fix that
Detectives' Endowment Association vice president Victor Cipullo said the death
penalty could have acted as a deterrent to the slaying. "These officers
could be alive today if there was a death penalty in place," he said.
A spokeswoman for Gov. George Pataki said death penalty legislation, which
has passed the Senate but not the Assembly, could apply retroactively in pending
cases including Legere's if district attorneys seek the punishment. Legere's
court-appointed attorney, Wayne Bodden, said he did not believe a new law could
apply to his case.
At the time of the killing, Legere was wanted for questioning about a relatively
minor May incident in which his mother said he broke a window in her house and
used her car without permission. Legere's mother said Sunday that her son had
probably shot Rafferty and Parker because he was afraid of being arrested.
Legere was ordered held without bail after Taub described what he called "overwhelming"
evidence against him and Legere's court-appointed attorney said he would not
ask for the suspect to be released.
Police and prosecutors say Parker and Rafferty were trying to stop Legere from
stealing his mother's car Friday night when he wrested away Parker's gun and
opened fire, fatally wounding the two detectives.
Rafferty struck Legere with a single bullet in both feet, and Legere fled in
a carjacked minivan and was arrested on a second-floor landing outside a friend's
home nearby, police said.
Taub said eyewitnesses and evidence including Parker's 9mm pistol, which was
found behind the building where Legere was arrested, meant certain conviction
for Legere. Ballistics tests show Rafferty and Parker were hit in the chest
and legs by seven shots from the 9mm Glock, police said Monday.
"I cannot imagine any circumstance whatsoever that will not result in
the defendant being convicted of first-degree murder and spending the rest of
his life in prison," Taub said.
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Bodden said Legere understood the charges against him and had complained that
he had not been fed during his stay at Brookdale Hospital, where he had been
held since his arrest. Legere also complained that his handcuffs were too tight,
provoking angry mutters from dozens of police in dress uniform and plainclothes
detectives who filled the courtroom's wooden benches, their badges banded in