For Petitioner: Jodi Peikin, Esq. Morvillo, Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello, P.C.
For Respondents: Eric Schneiderman, Esq. Attorney General of the State of New York.
Peter H. Moulton, J.
In this Article 78 proceeding petitioner Keila Pulinario ("Pulinario") challenges the decision of respondent New York State Board of Parole ("Parole Board") dated June 6, 2012, to deny her application for parole.
Pulinario was convicted in 1997 of the murder in the second degree of Imagio Santana ("Santana") in Suffolk County, New York. The two had been friends. Petitioner asserts that in 1995, Santana raped her in his car and then bragged to mutual acquaintances about the incident. After learning about Santana's statements, Pulinario borrowed a gun from her boyfriend and convinced Santana to accompany her to a wooded area where she confronted him. She stated that Santana mocked her and threatened to do it again, although it is unclear from the record before the court if the threat included the implication of imminent violence. Pulinario then killed Santana with two bullets and buried the gun. She was apprehended, charged, and tried. After the jury delivered a verdict of second degree murder the court sentenced her to 25 years to life.
Pulinario subsequently brought a habeas corpus petition. The Federal District Court granted the petition and vacated her conviction and sentence.
Following the grant of the habeas petition Pulinario pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree and was re-sentenced with the prosecutor's recommendation to a period of 15 years to life. At the re-sentencing hearing the ADA, who had represented the People beginning with the first trial, noted that Pulinario had accepted responsibility for the crime and "had made great strides in the rehabilitation process" such that she was not the "the same person she was 10 years ago." The ADA also stated, inter alia, that had a determinate sentence of 15 years been available, that "likely" would have been the ADA's recommendation. She also stated that the Suffolk County District Attorney's office would not take a position on parole.
Pulinario's first application for parole, in 2010, was denied. The instant proceeding concerns her second application.
Pulinario's second application for parole included extensive information concerning her participation in various programs while incarcerated, including STEPs to End Family Violence, a program that works with incarcerated women who have suffered abuse. Sister Mary Nerney of the STEPs program submitted a letter on Pulinario's behalf, in which she recounted Pulinario's positive changes in her fifteen years behind bars. In recommending that Pulinario was ready "to return to society" Sister Nerney noted that Pulinario had expressed remorse for her crime, and had participated in rehabilitative and vocational programs while incarcerated. This assessment was bolstered by the COMPAS report of Pulinario's Parole Officer, which stated that she was "low" risk of danger to society.
Pulinario's application also included a letter from Elaine Lord, who was the Superintendent of the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in 1997 - when Pulinario arrived at that facility - through 2004. The letter contains a description of Pulinario's positive evolution while at Bedford Hills.
Ms. Pulinario will turn 38 on May 18 . She was 23 when she came to Bedford Hills. She has served a long time during which she has matured and grew and needs now to be in the community using the skills that she has acquired and the maturity they illustrate. There is nothing to be gained by keeping Ms. Pulinario in prison and every expectation that she would be an asset to our society if she were released.
On June 6, 2012, Pulinario appeared before the Parole Board for the second time. The Parole Board denied ...