The sister of a murder victim in upstate New York is speaking out after Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul (NY) signed and boasted of progressive legislation that releases convicts who violate their parole.
From the Monroe Country jail alone, 17 felons were released this week pursuant to the “Less is More” Act signed by Hochul on Friday. One of the men released was 21-year-old murder suspect Joseph Rivera, who’s accused of killing 47-year-old Heather Majors at her home in July.
Rivera allegedly used a hatchet to kill Majors, striking her some 30-plus times as she held her hands in a defensive position to fight off the attack, local radio host Bob Lonsberry outlined Thursday. It’s suspected that Rivera, a neighbor of the well-liked Majors, was attempting to rob her, though the motive is unknown.
After Rivera was suspected of the crime, he was snagged on a parole violation from an earlier felony conviction and put in jail while authorities worked to formally charge him in the murder.
On Tuesday, though, Rivera was released.
NEW: The Monroe County Police Chief's Association just learned 17 felons being held in the Monroe County Jail for parole violations will be released based on the new "Less is More" law signed Friday. Press conference at 3:30pm, @news10nbc will be there.
— Jennifer Lewke (@WHEC_JLewke) September 21, 2021
“I heard on the news that he was released,” the victim’s sister, Jessica Majors, told News10 NBC. “He shouldn’t have been released.”
“He killed my sister like an animal,” Jessica said. “And he’s 21 years old and if he can be that brutal, commit that rule of a crime at 21, he doesn’t need to be out.”
Hours after his release from the “Less is More” Act, police had to scramble to re-arrest Rivera. According to News 10 NBC, “Rochester detectives say they got ‘frantic’ calls from Jessica Majors’ relatives after Rivera was released.”
“My message to the victims is ‘Albany is not listening to you,’” Monroe County Chief Deputy Michael Fowler blasted. “There is a distinct pattern out of Albany that they don’t care about victims and crimes and that’s what we’ve been saying over the past few years. And the evidence is coming at us every single day.”
Outspoken Rochester Police Captain Frank Umbrino took it to Hochul, too.
“There can’t be probably a more ignorant statement that somebody could make then ‘Well they should’ve just arrested him,’” said Umbrino, referring to the governor’s comments supporting the legislation. “We have a very heavy burden that we need to meet before we can make an arrest.”
Umbrino also noted the increased disadvantage authorities are now at when it comes to receiving help from the community. If the suspect is free to walk, it’s that much harder for witnesses to come forward than it already is out of fear of retribution.
“Less bad guys in jail, less witnesses will come forward and talk because they are afraid,” the police captain said. “Less crimes solved. More people victimized.”
Hochul visited Rochester on Wednesday but steered clear of opponents of the legislation, including the families of those victimized by the convicts she helped release.
“Individuals should not be held because of a technicality,” the governor rationalized. “Now, anyone who the police think is guilty of murder, if they can build a case on murder, I believe they did the right thing here. These people should be in jail.”
“We are simply saying that our jails and other places don’t have room to keep these individuals who are not dangerous to society because of their parole violations,” Hochul added.
After his re-arrest on Tuesday, Rivera remains at the Monroe County Jail without bond.