Public defenders in the Bronx want a judge to release a throng of violent suspects over coronavirus fears.(James Keivom /New York Daily News)
Bronx public defenders want a judge to release a throng of violent suspects over coronavirus fears — including nine accused killers and a man shot after allegedly pointing a gun at cops, according to a document obtained by the Daily News.
Bronx Defenders has filed a writ seeking the release of 18 suspects.
One suspect on the list fled New York after he was accused of hacking his wife to death with a machete. Another alleged killer on the list fled to California, and a third suspect on the list is an ex-con who stabbed an aspiring fashion designer to death in a subway station, sources told The News.
The legal filing by the Bronx Defenders is the latest effort at winning the release of inmates due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has led to the quarantine of hundreds of inmates on Rikers Island and the city’s other jails.
The Bronx district attorney’s office declined comment on the filing — but many prisoners on the Bronx Defenders’ list are expected to raise objections by prosecutors and police.
One is Ronnie Cole, a parolee who was shot and wounded in a tense videotaped confrontation with Bronx cops in July.
“The pro-criminal advocates are exploiting this pandemic to push their agenda to insane extremes. Anybody who pulls a gun on police officers has no business being put back on the street,” Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said Thursday.
"Our city is in crisis and police officers have enough to worry about without running into the same vicious criminals we locked up months ago,” Lynch said.
The other suspects include Victor Mateo, who is accused of running over his estranged wife with a car and then chopping her up with a machete in October. Mateo fled to Pennsylvania after the slaying.
Another suspect on the list, Aleyes Wilson, ran to San Diego after police say he shot another man in December.
“The presumption of innocence does not discriminate based on charge. What we are talking about are severely immunocompromised people who are awaiting their day in court and whose lives are in grave danger at Rikers Island where the pandemic is spreading like wildfire," said the Bronx Defenders’ Ilona Coleman in a statement Thursday night.
"Even Correctional Health Services has recommended that the court consider releasing many of the people named in this writ,” the statement said.
Similar lawsuits filed by the Legal Aid Society have sought the release of prisoners who especially at risk of the virus because of medical problems or their age.
Last week, the city’s five district attorneys and the special narcotics prosecutor wrote a letter stating that while hundreds of jail inmates have been released with their approval, their concerns about the release of some violent felons have been brushed aside.
The district attorneys contended that the jails can provide sufficient health care for inmates during the pandemic, “especially given the recent reduction in the city jail population, and the increased housing options in city jail facilities that should be available as a result.”