January 9, 2004

Police widow repeats call for no parole

NEW YORK (AP) _ The widow of a police officer murdered in 1971 appeared Friday before the parole board in her continuing campaign to keep her husband's killers behind bars.

Diane Piagentini, joined by daughters Debra and Diane, delivered their victims' impact statements at a Manhattan hearing that was closed to the public and media. Afterward, she reiterated that killers Herman Bell and Anthony Bottom do not deserve parole.

"I explained what I lost," Mrs. Piagentini said afterward. "Even though it's 33 years later, the impact on our family ... There was never a father's day for my children."

The Piagentini girls were ages 3 and 1 when their father, Joseph, and partner Waverly Jones were gunned down by the members of the Black Liberation Army. The officers were responding to a routine call when the killers shot them repeatedly from behind on a Harlem street.

Piagentini was shot 13 times, while Jones was shot four more in the unprovoked attack.

Bell, 55, comes up for parole in February, while the 52-year-old Bottom faces a parole hearing in July. Both were convicted of murder in 1975 for the May 21, 1971, killings.

Piagentini, as she did just two days earlier at a rally outside a Harlem police precinct, said neither of the killers should ever set foot outside of prison.

"Herman Bell and Anthony Bottom should never be released from prison," she said. "They should never walk the streets again."