Under mounting criticism, the Middlesex district attorney’s office Saturday again defended its decision to not seek bail for Jared W. Remy in an earlier assault, saying it took into account all the key factors in the case — including Remy’s history of violence, the physical evidence in the case, and the decision of his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel, not to pursue a restraining order.
“We did what we believed was appropriate given what we knew on Wednesday,” said MaryBeth Long, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.
Remy’s release on Wednesday had fatal consequences: On Thursday night he allegedly stabbed and killed Martel, 27, on the patio of the home they shared with their young daughter.
Remy is the 34-year-old son of popular Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy, who has not responded to requests for comment, but on Saturday afternoon posted a statement to his Twitter feed.
“Words cannot describe my wife’s and my grief,” the statement said. “Son or not, I am at a loss for words articulating my disgust and remorse over this senseless and tragic act. We are heartbroken.”
A massive man with a long rap sheet including allegations he assaulted two other women, Jared Remy had stayed out of major trouble with the law for nearly eight years by the time police showed up at his Waltham home on Tuesday night. Remy insisted the couple had just had a verbal argument, but Martel, who had called 911, told police he had grabbed her by the neck and slammed her head into a bathroom mirror.
According to a Waltham police report, officers at the scene noted no marks on Martel’s head. Remy was arrested and charged with battery and assault with a deadly weapon.
After he was booked at the station, Remy was released without bail, but an emergency restraining order was issued barring him from returning home that evening.
The following morning, Remy appeared in court with a lawyer. After Martel did not seek to renew the restraining order and did not attend the hearing, he was released without bail pending another court date.
The next day, Martel was dead and Remy was back in custody, this time charged with murdering her.
As details of her death continued to emerge, some questioned why someone with Remy’s criminal record — which includes 15 court cases and two previous allegations of assaulting women — would have been allowed to return home.
Officials in the prosecutor’s office stressed that Remy’s criminal record was one factor taken into account in considering whether to attempt to keep him behind bars.
“Hindsight is always 20/20,” said Long, who declined to discuss specifics of the decision to not seek bail, but reiterated statements made by District Attorney Marian T. Ryan on Friday on what was reviewed by the office.
Law enforcement officials noted that bail hearings serve the sole purpose of ensuring that a suspect returns for further court proceedings.
By showing up on Wednesday morning, they say, Remy proved he was not a flight risk.
Middlesex prosecutors, however, could have sought to keep Remy in custody pending a dangerousness hearing, according to a provision of Massachusetts law that allows for suspects to be held if they are deemed a threat to the alleged victim or to society.
Officials with the Middlesex prosecutor’s office would not discuss whether they considered pursuing a dangerousness hearing. They did, however, say their conversations with Martel were a prominent factor in how they pursued charges against Remy.
“We had conversations with [Martel] about what her wishes were, and she expressed to us that she was not coming [to ask for a new restraining order],” Long said.
A Suffolk Law School professor who once worked as an assistant district attorney in the Middlesex district attorney’s office said Martel’s choice to not renew the restraining order was probably a major factor in the prosecutors’ decision to not petition to jail Remy.
“Without a doubt, his record would have been a trigger that would have made them pause and at least run it up the chain,” said Ann McGonigle Santos, who specialized in domestic violence prosecution when she worked for the office from 1992 to 1998.
“But you have a victim saying ‘No, I’m not afraid’ when she didn’t show up to renew the restraining order, and the judge would have considered that even had the prosecution requested a dangerousness hearing.”
Multiple members of Martel’s family have told the Globe that she felt pressured by the Remys to not pursue a restraining order or charges against the father of her child.
That kind of request from Remy’s family members could easily have played a major role in Martel’s decision not to pursue a restraining order, as could have the fear that getting him into legal trouble would lead to future abuse, said Joanne Timmons, Boston Medical Center’s domestic violence program manager.
“It certainly weighs into your decision to pursue a restraining order or not,” Timmons said. “The more afraid you are of the abuser, the more afraid you are of consequences that could happen, even if you didn’t do anything wrong.”
Remy’s family members have not responded to news media requests about whether they asked Martel to not pursue charges.
Martel’s parents arrived late Friday evening from Virginia. Her mother went to the Waltham apartment Saturday to get some of her daughter’s belongings before driving to Taunton to make funeral arrangements. The couple hope to regain custody of Martel’s 4-year-old daughter, who was in the house at the time of the attack and is now in state custody.
Martel’s uncle, Richard Martel Jr., who has been serving as a family spokesman, on Saturday set up a memorial fund at Citizens Bank.
“It’s been hard on all of us, especially on my brother. He’s just heartbroken,” he said. “I’m going to make it my mission to do whatever I can to raise the money for this funeral and for a college fund for that baby.”
As the family tried to cope with Martel’s death, many observers remain outraged that, given his record, Remy was allowed to return home.
At least one elected official, state Representative James Lyons Jr. of Andover, has called on Ryan to resign as Middlesex district attorney. A Brookline woman who said she was also a victim of domestic violence has started an online petition urging the state Legislature to adopt a policy that keeps suspects accused of multiple incidents of domestic violence from being released without bail. And the state’s top prosecutor said on Saturday the way domestic violence cases are handled should be reexamined.
“Of course the system failed, because now Jennifer Martel is dead,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley. “This was a horrible, horrible tragedy. That young women should not be dead.”
Coakley, who served as Middlesex district attorney for eight years, stopped short of criticizing prosecutors’ handling of this case, but she said there may need to be changes to state law regarding domestic violence cases.
“There is no single silver bullet that ensures that we will keep everyone alive in every instance,” Coakley said.
“The most appropriate thing is to say: What happened in this case? Could something else have been done or not? And how do we prevent it from [happening again] going forward?”