Lawmakers: Change Law That Allowed Killer’s Release

ALBANY (AP) -

It’s “total insanity” that a man who killed eight children and two women in a New York City home 34 years ago was freed from prison because of a loophole in state law, two lawmakers said Tuesday while introducing legislation aimed at halting such conditional releases.

Christopher Thomas, 68, was released from a maximum-security prison in January. In 1985, he was convicted of first-degree manslaughter for the Brooklyn mass shooting.

After his 1985 trial, some jurors said they convicted him of manslaughter, not murder, because his heavy drug use was a factor in the crimes. Prosecutors said Thomas was a drug dealer when he entered the home on April 15, 1984, and shot eight children and two women.

At his sentencing, Thomas received 10 consecutive prison terms of 25 years for a total of 250 years. The current state law caps that sentence at 50 years. Because he was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and not murder, he was eligible for release after serving 33 years.

Under legislation introduced by Republican state Sen. Martin Golden of Brooklyn and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island, anyone convicted of first-degree manslaughter would be denied a conditional release such as what Thomas was granted.

“To this day, I can remember” the massacre, said Golden, a former police officer who retired from the NYPD a year before the slayings. “The state statute is flawed.”

Malliotakis said she hadn’t found a Democratic sponsor in the Assembly, but felt confidant she could find support from a New York City lawmaker.

“It is total insanity that a man who murdered eight children and two adults has now been released back onto our streets,” Malliotakis said.