New York Judge Releases Murder Suspect To Protect Him From Coronavirus
Manhattan, NY – A career criminal who was caught on camera stabbing his estranged girlfriend to death was released from jail by a judge who was concerned about him potentially contracting COVID-19 if he were to remain in custody.
“Is she dead? I hope so,” 63-year-old Pedro Vinent-Barcia allegedly told police when they placed him under arrest in 2018 for the brutal murder of 51-year-old Bernice Rosado, according to the New York Daily News.
Rosado’s accused killer terrorized her for months before he managed to track her down at a phone repair shop in Harlem on June 29, 2018, Assistant District Attorney Patricia Bailey said, the New York Post reported at the time.
Then Vinent-Barcia calmly walked in the shop and stabbed her three times in the back and chest.
He then nonchalantly walked out of the business, tossed the knife away, and strolled off while smoking a cigarette, according to the New York Daily News.
Rosado was bleeding heavily when police arrived at the scene.
They began administering CPR before she was rushed to Harlem Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Vinent-Barcia allegedly told police where he tossed the blood-spattered murder weapon, and the blade has been recovered.
The entire attack was captured by security cameras and occurred in front of multiple witnesses, police said.
Vinent-Barcia also allegedly stabbed a different girlfriend and bit off a portion of her ear during an attack in Florida in 1993, prosecutors told State Supreme Court Justice Mark Dwyer, according to the New York Post.
Despite the severity of the charge he is facing, Vinent-Barcia was one of 15 other inmates who were released from jail on March 26, after the Legal Aid Society filed a petition alleging that their pre-existing medical conditions placed them at significant risk of harm if they were to contract the novel coronavirus, the New York Post reported.
The Legal Aid Society declared that continuing to incarcerate such inmates during a pandemic violates their constitutional rights.
According to Corey Stoughton, Vinent-Barcia’s Legal Aid Society attorney, the accused murderer has been diagnosed with type II diabetes, pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular disease, the New York Post reported.
“As a result of his medical conditions and age, Mr. Vinent-Barcia is at high risk for severe illness or death if [he] contract[s] COVID-19,” Dwyer wrote in his decision to set him free.
Office of Court Administration spokesperson Lucian Chalfen said that a jury will decide whether or not Vinent-Barcia will return to a confined setting in the future, the New York Post reported.
“Clearly, Judge Dwyer felt that a jury should decide on this defendant’s fate, not a virus,” Chalfen said.
Just one day before Dwyer freed the 16 inmates, District Attorney Cyrus Vance consented to releasing 244 prisoners.
“We are in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis,” Vance told his staff in a memo. “I believe we should use our discretion to recommend release of certain individuals from Rikers who do not present a clear threat to public safety.”
“Extraordinary times call for us all to be flexible, but still to be guided by fundamental principles of safety and justice,” he added.