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Laffer Pleads Not Guilty to Upgraded Murder Charges

David Laffer, right, and his attorney Mary Elizabeth Abbate, appear in the courtroom for arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip N.Y. Thursday, June 23 2011. (AP Photo/Victor Alcorn, Pool)

A grand jury indictment was unsealed Thursday charging David Laffer, the suspected gunman in the Father’s Day massacre at a Medford pharmacy, with five counts of first-degree murder as new details about the allegations came to light.

The 33-year-old Medford man pleaded not guilty at Suffolk County court in Riverhead to those charges plus four counts of criminal use of a firearm. The fifth murder charge was described as an umbrella charge since there were multiple victims.


Judge James Hudson ordered Laffer continue to be held without bail at Suffolk jail, where he has been in protective custody, despite a request from his defense attorney for reasonable bail, citing that he is an unemployed Army veteran.

“In my view, he should spend the rest of his life behind bars without seeing the light of day, without any hope of enjoying even one day of freedom,” Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said while elaborating on the time-line of events leading up to the murders.

Spota said Laffer first shot 45-year-old Haven Drugs pharmacist Raymond Ferguson through a backpack in the abdomen, while engaging him in normal conversation.

He then twice shot the victim’s 17-year-old assistant, Jennifer Mejia, who had walked away from the counter when Laffer asked her if he could speak with the pharmacist alone, Spota said. Two shots and screaming can be heard on the surveillance tapes before Laffer walks back behind the counter and shoots Ferguson twice, point-blank in the face, according to the district attorney.

David Laffer, who was arraigned at Suffolk County Criminal Court on Thursday, June 30, 2011, in Riverhead, N.Y. for the shooting deaths of four people on Father's Day at Haven Drugs in Medford, on Long Island. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

While filling the bag up with hydrocodone-based prescription painkillers, Laffer stopped twice as he saw customers approaching the store. First to enter was Bryon Sheffield, 71. He shot Sheffield in the back of the head, then walked over his body before grabbing more pills, Spota said.

Laffer then allegedly shot 33-year-old Jamie Teccetta in the back of the head as well. Between stealing about 10,000 pills, shooting four people and wiping down the counter with his sweatshirt sleeve, Spota said Laffer was in the store about five minutes.

In all, seven shots were fired: Three hit the pharmacist, two struck Mejia and the two customers were shot once each. Police recovered six of the shell casings in the store and one outside. Spota said investigators believe the one shell outside fell from the backpack while Laffer fled.

All of it was caught on surveillance camera. Authorities have described it as “the most cold-blooded robbery-homicide in Suffolk County history.” It is the worst mass murder in the region since the 2000 Wendy’s massacre, when robbers killed five people in Queens for more than $1,000.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota speaks at press conference after the grand jury indictment of David Laffer at Suffolk County Criminal Court on Thursday, June 30, 2011, in Riverhead, N.Y. Laffer is accused of shooting and killing four people on Father's Day during a robbery for painkillers at Haven Drugs in Medford, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Prosecutors said they are confident that ballistics will match the bullets investigators found at the scene with the .45-caliber handgun registered to Laffer. A fingerprint left on a piece of paper at the scene matched prints Laffer filed with police when he applied for his pistol permit.

Spota said that Laffer had scouted out a location for days beforehand and used mascara to flesh out his beard disguise, after settling on Haven Drugs in Medford.

Laffer and his wife, 29-year-old Melinda Brady, were apprehended three days after the murders during a police raid at their Pitchpine Place home about two miles from the scene of the crime. Police said they were both high at the time.

Brady is being held on $750,000 bail after pleading not guilty to robbery for allegedly driving the getaway car. Those charges are expected to be upgraded, although she has been cooperating with authorities.

Laffer, who was wearing gray shirt and jeans, is due back in court Sept. 8. His trial is not expected to get underway until early next year. He faces up to five life sentences in an upstate prison.

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