Judge Melissa Loehr
Judge Melissa Loehr

Peekskill Councilman Joe Torres, a Republican, released a statement Monday afternoon criticizing Peekskill City Judge Meslissa Loehr, a Democrat, for her decision not to grant the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office request to set bail at $25,000 for two of the three suspects charged with felony assault and robbery over the weekend. Loehr released two of the suspects—21-year-old Peekskill residents Essa and Ishmail Mcgougain, 21—on their own recognizance. The third suspect—20-year-old Peekskill resident Akeem Joseph—was held on $2,000 bail due to an unrelated domestic violence charge. The DA had requested his bail be set at $30,000. It is unclear if he posted bail.

Peekskill Chief of Police Eric Johansen says that the three individuals arrested are also suspected in being involved in other recent crimes, including the violent attack on Orchard Street that sent a Hispanic male to the hospital in critical condition Friday night.

The statement from Torres, in full, is as follows:

Councilman Joe Torres
Councilman Joe Torres

This weekend our city was beset with a rash of the most deplorable violence one can encounter. Regardless of who we are, we all have a sense of safety when we are running about our daily lives. For two in our Latino community, this sense of safety was destroyed. Senseless hatred of a group of three men shattered the peaceful lives of two men and their families. One is physically OK and overcoming a forceful robbery. The other is clinging to his life after being targeted and hit in the head with, I’m told, a baseball bat. Yes, a baseball bat to the head for no apparent reason.

Our police did what we expect of them. They investigated and made arrests and put forth three men to face our criminal justice system. We should all feel safe, right? Well, no, we can’t feel safe. A liberal judge decided to play politics with your safety, and released all three of these accused violent offenders. They are now amongst us instead of safely in a facility where they can’t harm anyone until they answer for their crimes.

Unfortunately, this is standard practice for Judge Loehr. Everyone is released with no regard for our families safety. This is a direct result of the Peekskill Democratic Party picking Judge Loehr as a political favor instead of another Democrat judge who even Republicans agreed was best suited for the position.

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When contacted Tuesday morning, Judge Loehr said that as a judge, she is unable to comment or get involved in politics. A voicemail was left for the judicial press representative.

While he would not comment directly on this case, Robert Wolf, a spokesman with the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, described the bail process.

“Speaking in general terms and having nothing to do with this particular case, in court, there is such a thing as a bail application,” Wolf told The Peekskill Post Tuesday morning. “At the time of bail application the judge turns to defense counsel and asks for any mitigating reasons why bail should be either low or they should be ROR. Then the judge turns to our prosecutor to hear whether there are certain circumstances the judge needs to be aware of that would impose a high bail or that the suspect needs to be remanded. So, at the end of the day, the judge is going to hear both sides and then make a decision. Past that, there is nothing more for us to say.”

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