Sen. Joseph Robach is helping Cathy Bly Casper’s loved ones collect signatures on petitions that will be turned over to the state Parole Board.
A state lawmaker is helping the late Cathy Bly Casper’s loved ones in a push to keep her husband-turned-killer locked up as long as possible.
Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece, is helping the family members collect signatures on petitions calling on the state Parole Board to deny an early release for Walter Casper III. Appeals court judges in July replaced his second-degree murder conviction with a lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter, saying the evidence didn’t fit the type of murder: “depraved indifference to human life.”
“I understand the Bly family’s shock,” said Robach. “I am shocked also.”
A judge sentenced Casper in September 2000 to 25 years to life in prison for killing his wife by sending her over a cliff at Grimes Glen in Naples in the family minivan a year earlier. He was resentenced in January to the maximum for the lesser manslaughter conviction — five to 15 years behind bars.
Casper is not likely to spend more than 2 1/2 additional years behind bars. The 48-year-old former civil engineer from Macedon has already served about 7 1/2 years in prison, and under state law, he must be paroled after serving at least two-thirds of the maximum so long as he has behaved behind bars.
The case of Walter Casper III is one of dozens across the state over the last six years in which depraved-indifference murder convictions have been tossed out or replaced with lesser charges by the appeals judges. The irony is that often the appellate judges believed the evidence was more suited for the other kind of second-degree murder, intentional. Consequently, prosecutors across the state have largely stopped asking juries to consider the depraved-indifference murder charge, fearing it could be tossed out on appeal, even though it might be more fitting than intentional.
The New York State District Attorneys Association is now working on a proposal to remedy the problem with the state Legislature. For instance, a bill could create a new set of homicide laws, like murder with a weapon.
Under his new sentence, Casper became eligible for parole in June 2005, according to the state Department of Criminal Justice Services. If he is not paroled sooner, a conditional release date of June 23, 2010 has been set; Casper cannot be held longer than June 23, 2015, state records show.
A spokeswoman from the state Parole Board said Thursday that Casper did not yet have a hearing date set because needed paperwork had not yet been transferred to the department. However, if it arrives in the days ahead, a hearing could come as early as March, she explained.
Mrs. Bly Casper’s family members, including her two sons with Casper, Walter IV and Ben, will meet with the Parole Board on March 7 in Rochester. They will call on the board to keep Casper locked up, sharing the pain they have endured all these years, said Mrs. Bly Casper’s father, Donald Bly of Greece. He said he will try to get the board “to picture Cathy — the kind of person that she was.”
In a letter on his Web site, Robach wrote, “It is also a matter of public safety that Walter Casper not be released into our community. He should not be free to harm anyone else. Please remember Cathy, who was a wonderful mom, daughter, sister and friend. Please remember that Walter Casper is alive and has had to only serve a small portion of his life for this heinous act, which robbed his own sons of a loving mother.”
After his resentencing, Casper was sent back to the Elmira Correctional Facility in Chemung County. When a bed opens in another facility, he will be transferred, said a representative from the Department of Criminal Justice Services.
Robach said he wasn’t sure how many signatures had so far been garnered on the petitions. Donald Bly said his family has sent out hundreds of copies. “So far, the petition is going well,” he said. “There are lots of signatures,” he said.
To sign the petition, visit Robach’s Web site at www.senatorjoeroebach.com and click on “join the fight,” or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica Pierce can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 250, or at email@example.com.