By Grant Welker
Two Republican legislators are calling for the resignation of Middlesex County District Attorney Marian T. Ryan after her office did not hold behind bars Jared Remy, who days after an arrest last week allegedly killed his girlfriend at their Waltham home.
Remy, 34, was arrested Tuesday on domestic-assault charges against girlfriend Jennifer Martel, then released on personal recognizance Wednesday. Ryan's office said it did not seek bail or a restraining order because Martel did not attend a hearing that would have extended an initial emergency restraining order.
On Thursday, Remy, the son of former Red Sox second baseman and current longtime broadcaster Jerry Remy, allegedly stabbed Martel to death on the patio outside their home.
Andover Republican state Rep. Jim Lyons said the District Attorney's Office should have sought a high bail on Remy or sought to hold him until a dangerousness hearing could be held.
"They had the defendant in their control, and they let him walk without any hearing or any bail," Lyons said Monday, two days after first calling for Ryan's resignation on Twitter. "That's just absolutely inexcusable."
Another Republican lawmaker, state Rep. Marc Lombardo, of Billerica, echoed Lyons' criticism Monday.
"I think Representative Lyons is spot-on with his call," Lombardo said.
With Remy's criminal history, including 15 court cases, Lombardo said he should have been behind bars. And, he added, too many other legislators don't want to criticize Ryan because it was Gov. Deval Patrick who appointed her in April to the position after Gerard Leone resigned to take a job in the private sector.
"It's appalling that they wouldn't even call for a dangerousness hearing," Lombardo said, referring to a situation in which Remy could have been held until a later court date.
A spokeswoman for Ryan, Stephanie Guyotte, declined to comment on whether Remy could have been held pending a dangerousness hearing.
Ryan was appointed district attorney until an election can be held for the position next year.
Ryan has already announced she is a candidate. She has been with the office for more than 30 years, most recently as general counsel and chief of the elder and disabled unit.
In a statement Monday, Ryan called the calls for her resignation "an unfortunate attempt to politicize a tragic situation."
"Our focus is on prosecuting the person responsible for killing Jennifer and seeking justice for her and her family," she said.
A 2010 report by the sexual and domestic-violence victims' advocacy group Jane Doe detailed how widespread domestic abuse is in Massachusetts. On any given day, according to a national census in which Massachusetts participated, more than 2,000 domestic-violence victims sought services, including nearly 700 who were given emergency shelter or transitional housing.
Some Democratic legislators expressed concern about the district attorney's handling of the case, but none called for Ryan's resignation.
"Given all the facts, something's got to be done," said state Rep. Jim Miceli, of Wilmington. "We can't have folks like this poor lady who was murdered. We can't have that happen."
Miceli stopped short of criticizing Ryan's office for its handling of the case, but said laws should be strengthened to make it easier to hold someone like Remy, even if the alleged victim does not request a restraining order or testify in court.
"Before I castigate her," he said of Ryan, "I want to know a little more about the case."
Lowell Sen. Eileen Donoghue was supportive of Ryan's office, saying prosecutors' hands are tied if a victim does not seek a restraining order or request that a suspect be held.
"I think it's easy with 20/20 hindsight to judge a situation," she said, adding that not in every case can a suspect be held. "They're a highly professional office. They're no slouches when it comes to law enforcement."
Kevin Murphy, a Democratic state representative from Lowell, was also supportive, criticizing those calling for Ryan's resignation and calling it too early to reach any conclusion.
"It's the height of demagoguery to call for someone's resignation so quickly," he said.
Colleen Garry, a Dracut representative, said prosecutors can only protect victims as much as they want to be protected.
"My colleagues don't understand the law, don't understand what happens in a criminal court," she said of Lyons and Lombardo.
Democratic Reps. Stephen DiNatale, of Fitchburg, and Dennis Rosa, of Leominster, refused to comment on the calls for Ryan's resignation, as did Sen. Jamie Eldridge, an Acton Democrat who represents Shirley.
The Middlesex Chiefs of Police Association came to Ryan's defense, as well, with the following statement issued by its president, Weston Police Chief Steven Shaw:
"The Middlesex District Attorney's Office has always been, and continues to be, at the forefront of domestic-violence prosecution, prevention and education. District Attorney Marian Ryan has proven her commitment to partnering and collaborating with law enforcement and community service providers to keep victims safe and to prosecute violent offenders. As chiefs, many of us have personally worked with Marian Ryan to bring cases to trial and we know the commitment, experience and dedication she brings to this job. We look forward to continuing this work with her and doing all we can to break the cycle of domestic violence."
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