YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: State Assemblyman Robert Schroeder today asked those who haven’t yet signed an online petition urging the New Jersey Parole Board to keep the man who raped and killed a New Milford girl more than 35 years ago behind bars to do so. It must be submitted by April 4.
Kim Montelaro (FAMILY PHOTO)
So far, 2,000 people have added their names to the chorus calling for the denial of parole for Christopher Righetti, who abducted, raped and killed Kim Montelaro.
“As a victims’ rights advocate, I want to do everything I can to ensure this repeat
offender remains in prison,” Schroeder said. “We cannot allow a dangerous, unrepentant murderer the opportunity to commit more acts of violence in our community.
“[W]e need to get as many signatures as possible before the deadline.”
To sign before the April 4 deadline, GO TO: www.KeepNJSafe.org
Less than three years ago, Schroeder, the Montelaro family and local police chiefs Randy Ciocco of Washington Township and Frank Papapietro of New Milford — bearing thousands of letters written by citizens — swayed the board to deny Righetti parole.
All thought that would be the last they’d have to worry about him for a long time.However, a state Parole Board representative called Kim’s father, Anthony Montelaro, in Februrary and told him a state appeals court found the board erred in not allowing Righetti another hearing for 144 months.
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 16:50 Jerry DeMarco
EXCLUSIVE: Bergen County Executive Kathleen A. Donovan today added her voice to the growing number of those calling on the New Jersey State Parole Board to keep the man who raped and killed a New Milford girl more than 35 years ago behind bars. READ MORE….
A controversial law that had gone into effect two months before the board’s decision became official required that “in no case shall any parole eligibility date scheduled pursuant to this subsection be more than three years following the date on which an inmate was denied release.”
As a result, the appeals judges overturned the term length. Righetti is now eligible on June 21.“It’s like a penalty to us,” Anthony Montelaro told CLIFFVIEW PILOT within hours of receiving the call. “We have to relive this whole nightmare all over again.”
The tragic irony is that a three-member Parole Board panel imposed the 144-month period for Righetti on June 30, 2010, but the decision wasn’t officially adopted by the full board until Nov. 17 — two months after the new law went into effect.
Adding insult to injury, the state Legislature, led by Schroeder and state Senators Paul Sarlo and Loretta Weinberg, repealed the three-year maximum last year. Gov. Christie then signed the measure into law, blaming its early-release predecessor for two murders charged to former inmates let out of prison months ahead of schedule.
“From a public policy and public safety point of view, the statutory early-release law was a disaster,” Christie said, in restoring more discretion to the Parole Board to determine an inmate’s parole eligibility, rather than being required to review each case every three years.Bob Schroeder gives support letters to Paul, Alice, Anthony Montelaro in 2009 (CLIFFVIEW PILOT photo / EXCLUSIVE)
It was less than three years ago that Anthony and Alice Montelaro, both in their 70s, came up with their son from Florida, in what turned into a successful but very stressful bid to keep Righetti behind bars at Northern State Prison in Newark.
They were supported by members of a grass-roots group then known as Keep Bergen Safe, organized by Schroeder, then a Washington Township councilman.
The group — now known as KeepNJSafe.org — brought the board nearly 1,100 e-mailed and handwritten letters opposing Righetti’s release.
Alumni from Immaculate Heart Academy “shared their stories of what a wonderful girl Kim Montelaro was, and how much she has been missed,” Schroeder said at the time.
“Parents expressed their fears for the safety of their own children if Righetti were to be released. Others wrote in to share their personal and harrowing memories of Christopher Righetti, and how scary it was when he lived in our community,” he added.
All were pleased when the Board agreed not to allow Righetti another shot for 12 years. But he appealed.
The appeals judges ruled that the Board, in addition to ignoring the new law, “did not give adequate weight to mitigating factors applicable to his case, such as his participation in behavior-specific institutional programs, above-average institutional reports, and favorable institutional adjustment, and thus was unreasonably long.”
They directed the board to give “appropriate consideration to those mitigating factors” during Righetti’s next hearing.
Opponents are mobilizing.
“My plan, God willing, is to come up there, go before the board and talk to them again,” the angry father told CLIFFVIEW PILOT from his family’s Florida home, just after he filed an OPRA request last month for all records regarding Righetti’s conduct in prison.
Righetti, who the appeals judges said committed a previous rape, abducted Kim from the parking lot of the Paramus Park Mall in August 1976. He took the 20-year-old honor student to a wooded area, where he raped her and stabbed her six times in the chest.
Behind bars, Righetti, now 52, joined powerlifting teams and set a state corrections record in 1996 with a 1,000-pound squat, part of a state-record total lift of 2,105 pounds.
Righetti (Courtesy NJDOC)
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