“There will be no Christmas this year…cause David Laffer and Melinda Brady needed drugs.”
Those were the words of Mary Moran, grandmother of Jaime Taccetta, one of the four victims gunned down in a Medford pharmacy robbery on Father’s Day, while Moran spoke at the gunman’s sentencing at Suffolk County court in Riverhead on Thursday morning.
Judge James Hudson sentenced the 33-year-old unemployed Army veteran to five consecutive terms of life in prison without parole after he pleaded guilty in September to five counts of first-degree murder—one for each victim and one for the entire act.
Laffer’s 29-year-old wife, Brady, was sentenced earlier to 25 years in prison plus five years of post-release supervision, the maximum sentence for the robbery charge she pleaded guilty to after admitting she helped plan the hold up and drove the getaway car. Prosecutors have said they couldn’t prove Brady knew beforehand Laffer was going to kill anyone.
Laffer and his wife were arrested three days after the massacre—the worst in the region since a robber shot seven, killing five at a Wendy’s in Queens 11 years ago.
Laffer was caught on the store surveillance camera disguised in a fake beard at Haven Drugs, a small family pharmacy, as he shot 45-year-old pharmacist Raymond Ferguson of Centereach and his 17-year-old assistant, Jennifer Mejia, of East Patchogue—days before she was to graduate from Bellport High School.
After he killed Mejia, Laffer then fired the fatal shots at Ferguson and filled his backpack with thousands of hydrocodone-type prescription painkillers that he said he needed for his wife. He then fatally shot two customers in the back of the head after each separately walked in on the hold up.
They include Taccetta, a 33-year-old mother of two and bride-to-be from Farmingville, and Bryon Sheffield, 71, of Medford, who was picking up medication for his wife of 49 years after she had returned home from the hospital.
“The devastation and heartache is ever-present,” said Sheffield’s daughter. “He did not deserve to die on Father’s Day.” Sheffield and his wife were preparing to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. They “lived each day together and loved together,” his daughter said during the gut-wrenching testimony.
The Mejia family said in a statement that “God will do justice.”
“Was it worth it?” asked Taccetta’s brother Daniel, before staring down Brady while walking back to his seat.
Brady cried, apologized and said she prays for the victims’ families. “That awful day will haunt me everyday,” she told the court.
Laffer, who showed no emotion, said he hopes the families feel a sense of justice and that the case brings attention to the severity of the prescription drug abuse epidemic.
Hudson said he will request that Laffer serve solitary confinement. Laffer said in a September jailhouse interview with Newsday that he expects to be killed in prison.
“I wonder how he felt killing a 114 pound person,” said Moran, Taccetta’s grandmother. “He is a coward…the only friend he has is the devil.”
In response to the judge’s request that Laffer spend the rest of his time in jail in solitary confinement, Laffer’s attorney, Eric Naimburg, said afterward: “It’s rare. I’ve been doing this for 40 years, I’ve never heard of it done. It is a recommendation to the corrections department, obviously the corrections department is going to do what they think is best.”
While handing out Laffer’s sentence, Hudson said he didn’t see Laffer “shed one tear” the whole time, and didn’t appear to be remorseful.
“Why did you have to take the life of a child?” Hudson said.