Howard Beach Hunter Denied Parole

Howard Beach resident Eddie Taibi says he has not rested in the last thirty-eight months. After his release from prison was denied by an upstate New York parole board, it seems that rest will continue to elude him for many more months.

In November 2008, while on a hunting trip, Taibi fired his rifle at a deer and instead struck, 16-month-old Charly Skala, who was in the kitchen of her family’s trailer. The toddler died as a result of the gunshot wound and Taibi was arrested and charged with second- degree manslaughter.

Patrick Brackley prepared Taibi’s defense in June of 2009, but the hunter advised his attorney he had decided not to proceed with the trial and wanted to plea bargain.

Despite the pleas from his defense team, Taibi held his course. “I was not going to put that family through any more pain,” Taibi told The Forum in an August interview at the Woodbourne Correctional facility. “I lost my own daughter in 2006. She had cancer. She was 12. I know how those people hurt.”

Brackley had discussed the plea with the District Attorney and was assured that with good behavior Taibi would be released in less than 2 years.

Letters from the victim’s family urged the judge not to sentence Taibi to prison but instead allow him to serve his time doing community service and educating other hunters on the dangers of hunting.

Judge Frank LaBuda who presided over the case sentenced Taibi to 2 to 8 years with eligibility for parole in two years. At the conclusion of the sentencing, the judge wrote a strong letter to the Commissioner of Corrections urging that Mr. Taibi be released at the earliest date possible.

On June 7, 2011 Eddie Taibi prepared for his upcoming hearing with the parole board. He remained optimistic—he had developed open lines of communication with the staff at the facility –they were putting Taibi through all the processes normally reserved for an inmate about to be released.

A few days later Taibi received the letter he was waiting for from the parole board. The news wasn’t what Taibi had expected; his parole had been denied. The letter stated his release would be “incompatible with the public safety and the welfare of the community.” According to the law he must now be held for 24 months and can next appear before the parole board in June of 2013.

Much contributes to the shock and frustration now experienced by Taibi and his family. He has been an exemplary inmate—a fact strongly supported by letters submitted by his instructors and supervisors at the correctional facility.

An appeal was submitted to the parole board but Taibi recently received another denial which reaffirmed the board’s decision and further stated that it [the board] has the “right to deny parole to anyone at their own discretion.”

“I feel for the family of the child who lost their life,” Taibi said in a phone interview on Tuesday evening. “I never intended to hurt anyone. I know what it is like to lose a child and I would never do anything intentionally to have another person feel those emotions.” And Taibi is not the only one who shares the sentiment that he has been there too long. Friends and family remain focused on anything that could possibly lead to overturning the board’s decision. Attempts made on the part of local elected officials have as of yet proven futile but Taibi grasps on to the hope that something else can be done.

“It was a tragic accident,” Taibi says. “I have been in here for 27 months. I don’t think me being in here has done any good for Charly’s [the child’s} family or for mine.”

Now Taibi and his supporters are considering a letter writing campaign to inform the governor of the extenuating circumstances surrounding Taibi’s case and what they say is unjust. Family friend Phyllis Inserillo is in constant touch with Taibi. “Eddie’s a good guy who deserves to start again,” says Inserillo. “The parole board has a job to do but for them to dismiss the request of the child’s family and the judge who heard the case is something that the people who know Eddie and people who don’t to be very concerned with. The parole board made a grievous mistake and they need to be overseen to undo it.”

By Patricia Adams


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