ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Police say a man charged with murder on Tuesday was among 17 local inmates the state released the same day under the Less is More Act parole reform law.
U.S. Marshalls say they picked up Joseph Rivera just hours after his release. He was charged in connection with the death of Heather Majors, authorities say. Rochester police say she died at the hospital after being attacked with a hatchet on Chili Avenue in July. She was struck more than 30 times, according to police.
Rivera was arraigned in Rochester City Court on Wednesday, where he pleaded not guilty. The judge denied Rivera bail due to the nature of the crime.
"Certainly the allegations here are very brutal," said Asst. District Attorney David Dys. "But it is important that we are here so that justice is served. So that we are allowed to proceed to try this case while giving Mr. Rivera a fair trial. We look forward to a jury hearing in this case."
Majors' sister, Jessica, says this is a relief to her and her family.
"He shouldn't have been released," she said. "He killed my sister like an animal. He's 21 years old and if he can be that brutal, commit that brutal of a crime at 21, he doesn't need to be out."
According to the RPD, Rivera was in jail after being arrested in July on multiple parole violations, however, he had not yet been charged in Majors' death. The department says it had linked Rivera to Majors' death as part of its investigation and told the state parole office it intended to charge him in the killing.
Some local police chiefs say they are not happy with the law. They say they were not made aware of Rivera's release or the release of the other parolees.
The Less is More Act changed guidelines for evidence standards when determining whether to revoke community supervision for a parolee.
The Monroe County Sheriff's Office says the New York State Department of Corrections and the new law allowed 22 warrants to be lifted Tuesday. The sheriff's office says five people still had outstanding charges against them and they remain in jail.
Rivera is due back in court on Monday.