The prosecutor who did not contest Jared Remy’s release after he was arrested on domestic violence charges last year has told investigators he might have asked that Remy be held in jail if he had known that Remy had been deemed too dangerous to be freed in a prior domestic violence case.
The disclosure, included in part of a review of the case that District Attorney Marian Ryan had kept from the public until this week, offers new insights into the considerations by the prosecutor who made the decision to not object to Remy’s release.
Remy killed his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel, a day after the court released him without bail on the domestic violence charge. In 2005, Remy had been ordered held because he was considered dangerous after an assault on a different girlfriend, whom Remy kicked and punched repeatedly.
“It would have been significant to know that Remy had previously been held on dangerousness,” the prosecutor told former Essex district attorney Kevin Burke and First Assistant Norfolk District Attorney Jeanmarie Carroll in their review of the Remy case.
Ryan explained Friday that the prosecutor did not know that Remy had been ordered held in 2005 because such information was historically kept out of a defendant’s probation record.
Ryan ordered the review of her office’s handling of the Remy case following the Aug. 15, 2013, killing of Martel, two days after Remy smashed her head into a bathroom mirror.
The new details of how the prosecutor made his decision were contained in 19 pages that Ryan’s office released Thursday following a Globe request for the complete report.
Ryan had released an incomplete version of the review May 27, the same day Remy pleaded guilty to murdering Martel. That 16-page version was missing summaries of interviews with employees at Waltham District Court, where Remy was arraigned, and the table of contents that referred to the interviews. At the time, Ryan did not tell the public she had withheld pages.
Ryan said Thursday that she was under no obligation to release the full report because she was releasing it voluntarily, rather than in response to a public records request.
A public records request for the complete report was made by the Waltham News Tribune last winter, but Ryan’s office denied the request, citing the ongoing murder investigation. The news outlet appealed to Secretary of State William F. Galvin’s office, who sided with Ryan that the report could be withheld. But the state’s public records supervisor, Shawn Williams, said the report had to be released once the investigation was over.
Ryan said that when she released a portion of the report on May 27, the Tribune’s request was no longer open, and therefore she did not have to tell the public that she was withholding 19 pages.
In an interview Friday, Williams said there does not appear to be a clear violation of the public records law based on Ryan’s public statements.
“From that perspective, I don’t know if that’s a public records law issue because she wasn’t responding to a request for public records,” Williams said. “Her position is that she was not obligated to claim an exemption or indicate she was withholding materials because she was voluntarily providing a report. From my perspective, it’s not really a public records law issue.”
Justin Silverman, incoming executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said whether Ryan was allowed to withhold the report should not matter, arguing that withholding documents undermines confidence in public leaders to be transparent
“Regardless of where she stands legally or not, she had a duty to the public to disclose that the report was incomplete and that more information was forthcoming,” Silverman said.
In an interview Thursday night, Ryan said she felt the findings she released in May encapsulated what the employees told Burke and Carroll.
“What was important to me in this process is that we make changes that would ensure that what happened did not happen again,” Ryan said.
The unreleased section of the report, however, contains previously unknown details about the training of the prosecutors in Waltham District Court in handling domestic violence cases. One prosecutor who did not work on the Remy case said she had never been told what to look for when deciding when to ask for dangerousness hearings or bail.
And the prosecutor in Remy’s assault case, though he had served in a Lowell program that kept track of high-risk domestic violence offenders, was never trained on “lethality assessment.” That is an assessment made during bail considerations to judge the risk that a defendant’s violence might become lethal.
Ryan now requires prosecutors to consult a supervisor on bail decisions in domestic violence cases.
In addition, a new domestic violence law enacted in August, championed by advocates and prosecutors, now makes it mandatory to include that information in those records, said Ryan, who is running in the Sept. 9 primary against Middlesex Clerk of Courts Michael Sullivan to keep her seat.
In the Remy report, two supervisors say it is hard to imagine another prosecutor making a different decision based on the information the prosecutor in the Remy case had. The prosecutor, who has since left the Middlesex district attorney’s office, told Burke and Carroll that the biggest reason he did not seek bail was that Martel told a victim witness advocate she did not want to extend the restraining order she had filed against Remy.
The prosecutor, who spoke with Burke and Carroll at the district attorney’s office in Woburn, said he did not know if Martel felt safe because the victim witness advocate who spoke to her did not mention that.
During Remy’s arraignment, he said he was careful not to mention the conversation between Martel and the advocate in front of the defendant.
“He believed it was to protect her safety that Remy not know she had spoken with the office,” the report said.
According to the advocates’ interview, the advocate did not ask Martel if she felt safe but described her as seeming “calm and unafraid” when they spoke on the phone the day of the arraignment.
Carroll and Burke determined that there had been enough information about the case — such as Remy’s history of violence and his troubled mental state — to call for a dangerousness hearing.
In the findings released in May, they determined that advocates and prosecutors needed more supervision and consultation when making decisions about whether to a request a dangerousness hearing.
But, overall, they praised the office for its close relationships with police and organizations that work with domestic violence victims.
“In summary, we found that [the Middlesex district attorney’s office] has not only maintained a solid performance in allocating resources to the prevention and prosecution of domestic violence,” they wrote. “but [the office] considers the safety of domestic violence victims to be of utmost priority.”