ALBANY — A state judge on Friday put off a decision on whether cop killer Herman Bell should be released from prison.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard Koweek said he will rule “in the near future” on the case brought by Diane Piagentini — the widow of assassinated police officer Joseph Piagentini — who is challenging the state Parole Board’s decision to release Bell.
Bell, a former Black Liberation Army member who’s served nearly 40 years for the killing of Piagentini and fellow NYPD officer Waverly Jones in 1971, will remain in prison at least until Koweek issues a decision.
Koweek said a “significant issue” in the case is whether Piagentini’s widow has the legal ability to bring the case.
Attorneys for the Parole Board have argued that state law affords no opportunity for relatives of a victim to challenge a Parole Board’s ruling.
Piagentini’s attorney Mitch Garber disputed the Parole Board’s argument, arguing that “if she doesn’t have standing to speak about the murder of her husband...then who does?”
In her suit, Piagentini argued the Parole Board violated state law by failing to consider the sentencing minutes from Bell’s trial and Diane Piagentini’s victim’s impact statement before granting Bell parole.
“We’re here because the Parole Board did not do its job,” said PBA President Patrick Lynch, who attended Friday’s hearing. “He’s a terrorist and we cannot allow terrorists to walk our streets.”
Bell’s supporters, including Assemblyman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) argued the Parole Board made the proper decision.
“This is a frivolous lawsuit,” Barron said. “I don’t think there is a legal basis for it.”