WOBURN — Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan said Wednesday that her office erred in failing to request bail or ask a judge to hold Jared Remy as a potential danger during his Aug. 14 arraignment. She was responding to an outside review that found a deficiency in how her office handled that matter.
Remy, charged with slamming his girlfriend’s head into a bathroom mirror, walked away from court after his arraignment, and police say he stabbed and killed the girlfriend, Jennifer Martel, the following night.
Amid widespread criticism in ensuing days, Ryan defended her office’s handling of the assault arraignment, but ordered an external review. On Wednesday, the two outside prosecutors she asked to conduct the review issued their conclusions, saying the assistant district attorney in the courtroom that day made the wrong judgment in deciding that Remy did not need to be held.
They said he was too influenced by the fact that Martel did not appear in court to extend an emergency restraining order. Remy’s extensive criminal history and the fact their young daughter was present during the alleged assault should have been given more weight, they said.
“Looking at what we know now, it is impossible not to say that a different recommendation should have been made,” Ryan said, announcing new policies along with the review.
Former state secretary of public safety Kevin Burke, who led the review, said he found no evidence that Remy, now 35, received special treatment that morning as the son of celebrated Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy.
But he said the assistant district attorney who received the case — and who had less than three years of experience as a prosecutor — made the decision single-handedly not to seek bail or request a dangerousness hearing without consulting a supervisor. Burke recommended in the report that such consultations become mandatory, a change Ryan said she has already implemented.
“In this case, we think if that had been in place, it would have diminished the possibility that tragedy could occur,” said Burke, who is also the former Essex district attorney.
Burke said the prosecutor who handled Remy’s Aug. 14 arraignment had no supervisor at Waltham District Court to consult that day, because of vacation staffing and other constraints, and the assistant district attorney felt confident making his decision without calling a higher-level prosecutor.
Ryan, speaking to reporters alongside Burke, said that the prosecutor is “profoundly remorseful.” She said he reviewed the right criteria but gave them incorrect weight. She declined to name him, accepting responsibility herself.
“I am the district attorney: I am answerable for the actions and decisions of all 258 of our employees and the 40,000 cases they prosecute,” she said.
She stressed that even if her office had sought bail or a dangerousness hearing, it might not have prevented the death of Martel, a devoted mother and aspiring school teacher killed shortly before her 28th birthday.
Ryan said she has spoken with Martel’s family about the review and about the new consultation policy for district court prosecutors, all of whom were retrained in September on how to evaluate the facts at hand in deciding when to seek cash bail or request dangerousness detentions.
And she said she told them her office “will fully and vigorously prosecute [the murder] case, seeking to hold the defendant accountable for his alleged acts against their daughter and to seek justice.”
“They are grateful for the information,” Ryan said, “[but] it truly cannot change their life and what they are dealing with.”
Martel’s mother declined to comment Wednesday.
Ryan did not release the full report prepared by Burke and First Assistant Norfolk District Attorney Jeanmarie Carroll in their examination of her office’s policies and procedures and its handling of the Remy arraignment, given the still-developing murder case against Remy, which is scheduled for trial late next year.
The executive summary complimented Ryan’s office for its efforts to prevent domestic violence and found no need for a comprehensive overhaul. But it pinpointed the absence of supervision and consultation in the pre-arraignment stage as a weakness and a deficiency.
Advocates for victims in domestic violence cases noted Wednesday that the Middlesex district attorney’s office has had a strong record in such cases, even though it erred in the Remy case. They stressed that the review reinforces the need for continual vigilance in protecting victims from abusers.
“The message is not just about what was needed at the Middlesex district attorney’s office, but a wake-up call to all systems to listen to and support victims in making decisions about their safety,’’ said Toni Troop, spokeswoman for Jane Doe Inc., a statewide coalition against domestic violence. “This report was on target in terms of missed opportunities to both hold Jared Remy accountable and provide protections to Ms. Martel and her child.”
Ryan said that she has been working on a campaign to improve laws aimed at protecting victims and strengthening penalties in domestic violence cases, testifying on it last summer and again last week.