WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Arraigned and released - nearly two weeks into New York's new bail reform law, one recent case raises more concern for law enforcement.
A town of Pamelia man was accused of strangling a woman at his home and then firing a shotgun outside there Friday. He was arraigned and released without bail, which raises a question to sheriffs: what about public safety?
"I don't think that the community is safer without him being incarcerated. I certainly don't think the victim is anywhere near safe," said Jefferson County Sheriff Colleen O'Neill.
County sheriff's deputies charged 31 year old Edward Perkins III of Pamelia Friday with second-degree strangulation, weapons charges and endangering the welfare of a child.
Perkins is accused of strangling a woman with her three year old child present and firing a gun. Sheriff O'Neill says deputies later found Perkins driving on Route 11 with a shotgun in the car. They also removed 24 rifles and shotguns from his home, which O'Neill says was the judges' order.
Now, he's free without bail.
"People that should actually be incarcerated are no longer incarcerated. Sometimes it was just to secure their presence in court. Sometimes it was for their own benefit. And other times, many, many times, it was to protect the victim," said O'Neill.
O'Neill says this case stands out in her department since the bail reform law took effect in New York January 1. The law automatically releases people charged with minor crimes, misdemeanors and even more serious crimes.
Defense attorney John Hallett is representing Perkins for this case.
“In Mr. Perkins’ particular case, he had no prior criminal convictions. He’s employed full-time. He’s a local man. He’s not going anywhere during the pendency of this case. The likelihood that he will reappear in court is very high,” said Hallett.
O'Neill says this is a case which explains why the new law needs changing, and quickly.
"The circumstances that now people can look at, read real stories about, see where it fails, is actually very blatant and hard to ignore. I'm hoping lawmakers see it and react to it appropriately," she said.
Perkins was issued an order of protection against the victim and is expected to return to court at a later date.