COMMENTARY | Upstate New York citizens are palpably angry over the murder of 47-year-old school librarian Lori Bresnahan and the rape of the 10 year old child accompanying her to a gymnastics class at a suburban mall. Indeed, the type of crime of which 29 year old David J. Renz is accused even incites the outrage of common criminals.
In a story published by the Syracuse Post-Standard, Renz’ lawyers say their client was beaten by other prisoners and asked for protective custody while he’s jailed awaiting charges of 1st degree rape, 1st degree kidnapping, 1st and 2nd degree murder. Post-Standard writer John O’Brien also recounted how Renz yesterday appeared again before U.S. Magistrate Andrew Baxter, who had ordered his release from custody in January.
Since bail is a constitutional issue, Baxter had little choice but to honor Renz’ bail petition when federal court higher-ups did not actively oppose his release. The “higher-up” in this case is Richard S. Hartunian, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District, appointed by President Obama in 2009.
Yet, bail is neither a guarantee nor a right. An important consideration in considering whether an accused can post bail is whether the accused is a danger to society. If Renz is the killer-rapist prosecutors say he is, that issue has been answered in horror and blood.
Any clear thinking person reading Renz’ criminal complaint on federal child pornography charges would conclude he was a loaded gun pointed at society’s head. Yet he was bailed out–with naive preconditions. The laxity of electronic monitoring meant that Renz could slip off his “bracelet” to kill and rape at 9:00 p.m. without authorities being informed until 11:30 p.m.
Like the infamous Petit murder-rape in Connecticut, a conviction for these crimes would argue for a death penalty New York does not have. The last person administered capital punishment in New York was executed in 1963.
Since colonial times, New York has had a love-hate relationship with the death penalty, banning it and reinstating it at various times.
Responding to public outrage at violent crime, former Gov. George Pataki signed legislation reinstating the death penalty in 1995. However, the New York Court of Appeals subsequently declared that capital punishment legislation unconstitutional. Ultimately, former Gov. David Paterson ordered removal of all execution apparati from state prisons.
There is, however, a federal death penalty, and if convicted, Renz would be the perfect fit. U.S.C. 1201 applies to murder during a kidnapping) and 18 U.S.C. 2551 applies to cases of “murder related to sexual exploitation of children.”
Anthony Ventre is a freelance writer and a Yahoo contributor in news, commentary, and financial writing.