A case in Massachusetts that has received national attention is the unfortunate murder of 27 year old Jennifer Martel. The person arrested for this murder is 34 year old Jared Remy. He is the son of former Red Sox star and current Red Sox announcer, Jerry Remy. This case has received attention because of the brutal way the woman was murdered, the celebrity status of the father of the murderer, and the fact that the police arrested Jared Remy the day before the murder and he was released by the court. The press in the Boston area has criticized the District Attorney, Marian Ryan, for the release of Jared Remy on bail the day before the murder. In this case, the attacks on the DA by the Boston press are unjustified.
I am not involved in this case so the facts, as I understand them, come from news reports on the internet. These reports can be found on the web sites of the Boston newspapers.
Jared Remy has a long history of wrongful behavior. He has been arrested at least fourteen times, had two restraining orders from different women in the past, and was charged on one occasion with violating a restraining order. However, there was no documented incidents of abuse in the Remy-Martel relationship and all previous charges of violence were at least eight years old.
During the night of Tuesday, August 13, 2013 the police were called to the home shared by Jared Remy and the victim. They arrested Remy for domestic assault and battery based on statements by Martel that Remy had pushed or slammed her head into a bathroom mirror. The police noted that there were no marks on the mirror, no damage to the mirror, and no bruising or other marks on Martel. Martel also declined medical treatment. In other words, there was no physical evidence to corroborate the claims by Martel.
Ms. Martel obtained an emergency abuse restraining order during the night. This order was issued based on a telephone call in which Ms. Martel spoke to a Judge. The order probably ordered that Remy stay away from Martel and their home and not abuse her. The order, pursuant to Massachusetts law, expired at 9:00 AM at which time, Ms. Martel had the ability to appear before a Judge in Court and request a restraining order against Remy for a longer period of time. Ms. Martel failed to appear in Court the next morning to request the restraining order. The District Attorney’s office called Ms. Martel when she did not appear. She told prosecutors that she did not want them to extend the emergency restraining order. Jared Remy was arraigned before the Court and Remy was released on personal recognizance with a bail warning and a no-abuse order. The Court did not order that Remy stay away from his home or Martel.
A bail warning is warning given to a defendant that they are under an order not to commit any crimes while they are released on bail. If they commit any crime, no matter how minor, the defendant can be held without bail while awaiting trial. A no-abuse order is an order not to commit abuse against the victim of the first crime.
Thursday night the police again responded to a call to the shared home of Remy and Martel. They found Martel with multiple stab wounds. She died shortly after the police arrived. Witnesses saw Remy on top of Martel stabbing her on their patio. One neighbor tried to stop him. When the police arrested Remy his clothes were soaked in blood. According to the press, there is no question about who committed the murder.
Many news reports and commentary in the Boston area blame the District Attorney for the murder. According to these reports, the DA should have sought to impose a stay away order on Remy as a condition of bail. While this may sell newspapers, it doesn’t make much sense.
The court ordered Remy to not abuse Martell and to not commit any crimes. Obviously, the court orders did nothing to prevent the murder. If a person is willing to commit murder, why would anyone think that they would obey a court order to stay away from a person. He violated two orders of the court and committed the most heinous of crimes. Why would one more crime deter him?
In Massachusetts, bail hearings are controlled by G.L. c. 276, § 58. Under this statute, the purpose of bail is to assure the person will return to court when ordered to do so. While Remy had a lengthy history of court cases, the press never reported that he failed to appear in court when ordered to do so. In fact, a lengthy criminal record without a “default” for failing to appear is a good reason to release a person on personal recognizance. Of all the articles in the press that I saw, none of them gave any reason for a judge to impose bail other than he committed a murder the next day. I assume that the other factors that a judge must consider under the statute supported the release on personal recognizance.
Masssachusetts has another statute that applies to bail hearings. The second statute applies if the District Attorney chooses to argue to the court that a person is dangerous and should not be released without conditions. This statute, G.L. c. 276, § 58A, requires notice be given to the defendant and that he be allowed to prepare for an evidentiary hearing on the matter. In this case, given the information known on Wednesday morning, there is nothing to suggest that a judge would have found Remy dangerous under the statute and have done something that would have prevented the murder. (As I indicated above, an order for Remy to stay away from Martell would likely be ignored by Remy as evidenced by the fact that he chose to commit murder.) The victim alleged domestic abuse of pushing her into a mirror. She had no visible injuries or bruises. The mirror had no marks or damage. She refused medical care. She didn’t appear in court to extend a restraining order. She told the police that she didn’t want a restraining order and wanted Remy released. If she testified, she probably would have testified that she was not in fear of harm. Remy had a record of eight years of no problems and no prior evidence of violence with Martell. While there was a record from more than 8 years ago that would have supported a finding of dangerousness, there was no recent record. Given these facts and the statement by the victim that she was not in fear, there was no basis for the District Attorney to request a dangerousness hearing.
It is easy to look at the murder and blame the District Attorney for failing to control Remy. However, given the laws in Massachusetts and the facts in this case, the District Attorney could not have provided more protection to Martell.
It appears that Martell stayed away from the home with Remy until Thursday night when she returned to Remy the engagement ring he had given her. Perhaps she should have consulted an attorney before she approached Remy about a breakup. While I am not blaming the victim, I think that people can take some easy steps to avoid confrontation. Martell could have brought someone with her, or met Remy in a public place. She could even arrange for a police officer to accompany her when she returned to the house. When domestic abuse occurs, both parties should consult an experience lawyer for advice.