Wife in NY pharmacy killings pleads not guilty

Pictured: David Laffer and Melinda Brady

June 24, 2011 10:12:43 AM PDT
The wife of the man accused of killing four people during a robbery for painkillers at a New York pharmacy pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that she drove the getaway car and grabbed a police officer's leg while resisting arrest.

Melinda Brady was arrested on charges of robbery and obstructing governmental administration in connection with the Father's Day bloodshed at Haven Drugs in Medford, on Long Island.

Police said Brady and her husband, David Laffer, were high on drugs when they were arrested Wednesday at their home in Medford. Laffer was arraigned Thursday on first-degree murder charges, and a court-appointed attorney entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

Assistant District Attorney James Chalifoux said a grand jury would convene on Monday to consider more serious charges.

A judge on Friday set Brady's bail at $750,000 cash or a $1.5 million bond. Her attorney, Jeremy Mis, argued unsuccessfully that the bail was too high and that Brady was not a flight risk.

The shootings claimed the lives of pharmacist Raymond Ferguson, 45, of Centereach and store clerk Jennifer Mejia, 17, of East Patchogue, as well as two customers, Bryon Sheffield, 71, of Medford and Jamie Taccetta, 33, of Farmingville.

A funeral was being held Friday for Mejia, who died days before her prom and high school graduation.

Brady was waiting outside in the car when Laffer went into the pharmacy and commenced the carnage, assistant district attorney John Collins said.

Brady was cooperating with investigators and provided a glimpse of that Wednesday night when she was led from police headquarters to a nearby precinct holding cell.

"He was doing it because he lost his job and I was sick," Brady, who appeared disheveled and addled, told reporters. "He did it. He did all of this."

Laffer expressed surprise early Thursday when reporters asked what he thought about his wife blaming him, though his response was inaudible.

Brady had several surgeries on her mouth in the year before their January 2009 wedding, according to posts she made on the website Long Island Weddings. She told fellow brides-to-be on the site that she was in severe pain and taking different types of painkillers.

"I only take it if I really have to," one post read. "I really hate taking them."

She wrote that Laffer and her family were supportive, but it was taking a toll on her relationships.

"I have been on pills after pills for this infection and it won't go away," she wrote. "I am not a depressed person or anything before this all happened. I was happy."

Laffer served in the Army from 1994 until 2002 and attained the rank of private first class, said Mark Edwards, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Human Resources Command in Fort Knox. While in the service, he worked as an intelligence analyst.

His Facebook page showed he was interested in weapons and science fiction. He lists himself as a fan of the conspiracy-based science fiction drama "Dark Skies" and the Spike TV show "Deadliest Warrior." He also lists Springfield XD, a type of pistol, among his interests.

The intense manhunt for the suspects in the worst mass killing in Suffolk County since six family members were slain in the 1974 "Amityville Horror" killings, generated more than 400 tips from a community on edge since Sunday, police said.

"We know this arrest won't bring back Raymond, Jennifer, Bryon and Jamie, but we're hoping this will provide some sense of closure to the victims' families," said Police Commissioner Richard Dormer, the Suffolk county police commissioner. "We are also hoping this gives the community peace of mind that this violent individual is behind bars."