D.A.'s Office Will Not Re-Charge Suspect in Officer Parete's Shooting

12:09 AM, May 2, 2013   |    comments
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Video: D.A.'s Office Will Not Re-Charge Suspect in Cop Shooting

Buffalo Police Officer Patricia Parete

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Based on the wishes of her family and the Buffalo Police Department, the Erie County District Attorney will not re-charge the man who shot Officer Patty Parete and her partner.

Parete and her partner, Officer Carl Andolina, were shot while answering a call at Elmwood and Chippewa on December 5th, 2006.

Varner Harris, Jr., who was a teen at the time, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder and was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.

Parete was partially paralyzed by one of the bullets.  She died this past February from her injuries.  She was 48 years old.

Because the injuries led to her death, Harris could have been re-tried under a charge of murder in the first degree.

Erie County Distict Attorney Frank Sedita sent a letter to the Parete family stating that based on the family's wishes and recommendation of Buffalo Police officials, he would not re-charge the gunman with the more serious charge.

You can read Sedita's letter to the family here.

Sedita declined our interview request.

Barry Covert, a defense attorney and 2 On Your Side legal analyst, said he agreed with Sedita's decision, in large part because of the wishes of Parete and her family.

"The wishes of the victim, the wishes of the victim's family when the victim is deceased, are very, very strong motivating factors," Covert said. "And the wishes of law enforcement are always strong motivating factors in coming to a balanced decision."

Covert said the slim possibility of an acquittal or a lesser sentence than he's currently serving, are also factors that caused him to agree with Sedita that adding the new charge is too risky.

Although Harris will be eligible for parole at age 50, Covert said he believes the admitted shooter will remain in prison until he dies.


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