WOBURN — Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan vowed Monday to conduct a full review of the way her office handled the case against Jared W. Remy, who had been arrested for allegedly slamming his longtime girlfriend, Jennifer Martel, into a mirror just two days before he allegedly killed her.
The district attorney’s office has come under fire from the public in recent days for not asking a judge to continue to hold Remy, based on his history of domestic violence charges, or ordering him to stay away from Martel following his arraignment last Wednesday in Waltham District Court on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Ryan said the internal investigation will look at whether the prosecutor in this case properly considered all the appropriate factors before deciding not to seek bail or a “dangerousness” hearing to determine whether Remy should have been kept in jail. She said the review will also look at steps that could be taken to better protect victims of domestic violence in future.
“Anytime you engage in a process, no matter how careful, no matter how thoughtful, and it is followed by something as tragic as loss of life, as in the case of Jennifer Martel, one would be irresponsible not to reexamine what happened in that case,” Ryan said.
But Ryan said that so far it appears that her staff made the right call, given all the facts of the case. She said there was no need to bring outside investigators to review the case.
“The Middlesex district attorney’s office is fully capable of conducting a review of our internal processes,” she said.
Remy, the son of former Red Sox player and beloved broadcaster Jerry Remy, was arrested Tuesday night after Martel dialed 911 and told police that he “slammed her face against a mirror.”
‘The Middlesex district attorney’s office is fully capable of conducting a review of our internal processes.’
But prosecutors declined to seek bail or request a dangerousness hearing, like one that kept Remy behind bars for months after he allegedly attacked another woman eight years ago. Instead, prosecutors asked a judge to order Remy not to abuse Martel.
Remy, who has a 4-year-old daughter with Martel, is facing charges that he stabbed Martel to death a day after he was released on personal recognizance, prompting many observers to wonder whether prosecutors and the courts could have done more to protect Martel.
“It is important to get all the facts to determine what, if anything, could have been done differently,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement to the Globe Monday.
In addition to welcoming the review, Coakley also repeated calls she first made last week after Martel’s death to reexamine the state’s domestic violence laws to make sure they do enough to protect victims.
“This is yet another horrible tragedy due to domestic violence,” Coakley said. “Jennifer Martel should be alive today, but now a daughter is without a mother, and a family is without a daughter who died much too young.”
Ryan, defending her office’s actions, said her prosecutors made decisions based on the information they had at the time.
She pointed out that the victim did not attend Remy’s arraignment and told prosecutors that she did not want them to extend the emergency restraining order that was initially granted after Remy’s arrest on Tuesday and that expired Wednesday morning.
Prosecutors also found no physical evidence that Martel was seriously injured, Ryan has said. An officer did not find any marks on her head where she said it struck the mirror, and Martel declined medical treatment the night she called 911, saying she would be fine, according to a report filed by the Waltham Police Department.
“There were no injuries,” Ryan said, describing the alleged assault as a “grab and push.”
In addition, this was the first time in their seven-year relationship that Remy was arrested for assault. There was “no documented history of offenses in this relationship,” Ryan said.
But Remy, who has admitted to using steroids to boost his weightlifting, had a long history of arrests for violence that raised questions about whether prosecutors could have done more to protect Martel or whether Remy was treated differently because of his famous father.
Remy’s criminal history goes back at least to 1998, when he was charged with assaulting a Weston woman and vandalizing her property. He was accused of hitting a woman on the head with a beer bottle at a Waltham bar in 2003.
Remy also faced a series of charges of assaulting and threatening a former girlfriend between 2002 and 2005 — including threatening to kill her at least twice, cutting up her clothing and pictures, and punching and kicking her until she ran to a neighbor’s house — and violating a restraining order, according to court records. Prosecutors sought a dangerousness hearing in 2005 after the assault charges, and he was held in jail for 81 days while the case was pending, court records show.
He also faced miscellaneous other charges, ranging from having a hypodermic needle in 2000 to driving with a suspended license in 2011.
One district court judge said he thought the prosecutor should have requested a hearing on whether Remy was too dangerous to release from jail.
“Domestic violence is the third rail,” said the judge, who is not involved in the case and asked not to be named. “You usually throw the kitchen sink at it.”
But several attorneys said they hesitated to second-guess prosecutors’ decisions, given the lack of serious injuries in the latest case, the reluctance of the victim to renew a restraining order, and the fact that the previous charges of violence were at least eight years old.
“It does look like [prosecutors took] a reasonable course of action, given all the factors,” said Ann McGonigle Santos, who specialized in domestic violence prosecution when she worked for the Middlesex district attorney from 1992 to 1998, noting that it was not a clear-cut case. “It is very easy to be a Monday morning quarterback.”
David Newton, a former Boston prosecutor, said he had a practice of asking for bail or a hearing to determine whether suspects were too dangerous to release in cases in which suspects had a past record of violence. But he said other prosecutors in other jurisdictions might handle the case differently. And he did not think the decision to allow Remy to be released on his own recognizance was unusual.
“There’s a lot of gray” in such cases, said Newton, who now works as a criminal defense attorney.
A Salem attorney who has represented people accused of assault and domestic violence said the criticism against prosecutors is “absurd.”
“The prosecutors made the right call here,” said Daniel Gindes, a criminal defense attorney from Salem, adding that a judge probably would have rejected any push to keep Remy in jail, given the circumstances of the case. “It was just a routine case, and it was handled in the proper routine way.”
Gindes noted that there are thousands of domestic violence cases in Massachusetts a year.
“If they tried to put all these people in jail, they wouldn’t have enough jails.”Andrea Estes of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Todd Wallack can be reached at email@example.com; Sean P. Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.