Long Island officials spar with NY Gov. Hochul over bail reform after body parts suspects released

Long Island officials are calling for a change in New York's bail laws in the wake of a case involving body parts found in Babylon, West Babylon, and Bethpage.

After four suspects were released Wednesday, Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine and some county legislators and law enforcement pointed fingers at Albany in a Thursday press conference.

"The evidence we had as of yesterday was not sufficient under the bail laws of this state to hold someone despite the fact that we had enough evidence to say they probably carved up these people," Romaine said.

On Good Day New York, New York governor Kathy Hochul had suggested the problem was not with the laws, but with the way prosecutors filed charges.

"I held the budget up one month, not because of money, but because I insisted that I am not leaving town until we change the bail laws," Hochul said on GDNY. "Maybe the DA should've done a more thorough investigation and brought murder charges or conspiracy to commit murder or even assault charges because all of them are bail-eligible."

"I encouraged the DA's office to go back and build your case because if you bring any of those charges, which I think would be appropriate, that's absolutely bail-eligible. Those people would not be out on the street," Hochul added.

Body parts found on Long Island

Police on Long Island arrested a group of four in connection to the dismembered body parts found in Babylon and Bethpage.

Two women and two men have been charged with hindering prosecution, tampering with evidence and concealing a human corpse. They are: Steven Brown, 44, of Amityville, Jeffrey Mackey, 38, of Amityville, Amanda Wallace, 40, of Amityville, and Alexis Nieves, 33, who is homeless. 

RELATED: 4 arrested, released without bail after body parts found on Long Island

All four were arraigned and released, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said.

"For the governor to criticize the efforts of these detectives without knowing any of the facts in defense of a broken bail system is both baffling and indefensible," Tierney said in a statement. "It is our understanding that the Suffolk County Police Department is still investigating these murders. Unfortunately, due to ‘Bail Reform’ passed by the New York State Legislature in 2019, charges relating to the mutilation and disposal of murdered corpses are no longer bail-eligible, meaning my prosecutors cannot ask for bail."

"We also have to deal with the situation where you can carve up someone and walk out of the court and not have to post bail or not be held. I don’t think that’s right," Romaine added.

New York State's bail reform 

New York's current bail law gets rid of monetary bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, according to the Brennan Center

Those accused of such offenses are either released without conditions while their cases unfold or placed under specific conditions like electronic monitoring. 

In 2019, legislators in New York enacted a law abolishing cash bail for the majority of misdemeanors and select nonviolent felony charges, based on the idea that an individual's financial status should not dictate their freedom. However, in 2020, prosecutors and police departments rolled back of the 2019 reforms. The topic has been a point of contention ever since.