An outraged community – and a former New York governor – are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to force the New York State Parole Board to reconsider its decision to release a teenage girl's convicted murderer before he’s set to walk out of prison a free man as early as this coming Monday.
In an interview with Fox News, former Gov. George Pataki said Cuomo should force the parole board – filled with Cuomo appointees – to reconsider its decision to parole Richard LaBarbera, who was convicted in the second-degree murder of 16-year-old Paula Bohovesky in 1980 outside New York City.
“The governor can certainly ask the parole board to take another look and to look at the facts, to look at the lack of remorse, and if they did, they would have to see that this man should not be out in the streets,” Pataki said Wednesday.
“I have been very careful about not commenting on state government policies since I left office, but this release of this rapist and murderer is so hideous to me, I really feel an obligation to speak out so that first, hopefully, it won't happen, but if it sadly does, that it won't happen again.”
On October 28, 1980, Bohovesky was walking home from the library in Pearl River, N.Y., when she was hit in the head with a concrete block, raped twice, strangled and stabbed five times just a block away from her home. It was the most brutal murder the local medical examiner had ever seen.
Both Robert McCain and LaBarbera were convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, the toughest sentence available at the time.
Both men have been up for parole since 2005 and have been denied every two years. However, last month, LaBarbera was granted parole in a hearing with three members of the state’s 12-person parole board.
Days after more than 1,000 community members held a vigil in Pearl River, that same board decided not to parole McCain, citing public outcry.
On Wednesday, the non-profit organization “Petition for Paula” filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court demanding that LaBarbera be given another parole hearing in front of all 12 members and that his scheduled release be delayed because full transcripts of the decisive hearing have not been released.
The organization also was asking a judge not to allow LaBarbera to go within five counties of Lois Bohovesky, Paula’s surviving mother who still lives in Pearl River. Under the current parole guidelines, no such restrictions exist.
The organization and Lois Bohovesky have contended LaBarbera never has accepted full responsibility for his crime, nor has he ever shown remorse. However, transcripts revealed that the board found LaBarbera showed sufficient remorse in his last hearing.
The New York State Parole Board has made a string of recent controversial decisions including the release of Herman Bell, a man who murdered two New York City police officers in 1971. The board also chose to release Marybeth Tinning, a woman convicted of killing her infant daughter in 1985 and suspected of killing seven of her eight children.
“You know, I've seen this attitude in the past, that criminals aren't violent thugs who belong behind bars, they are victims of society and somehow we have to understand their motives,” Pataki told Fox News. “Well, I'm not interested in understanding the motive here, it was a barbaric, hideous murder, that's enough for me.”
Cuomo has not commented directly on the Paula Bohovesky case and the decision to parole LaBarbera, despite repeated requests from Fox News.
LaBarbera is expected to be released as early as July 8.
Fox News' Cristina Corbin contributed to this report.