Most of you know my story (if you donít, click my quote below). I post all developments in hopes that other victims of Al Fentress may find their way here and perhaps find some relief and recovery.
The fact that Justice Catterson is retaining jurisdiction is good news because he is very familiar with the case and if I recall correctly has gone out of his way to educate himself about sex offenders.
Tuesday, June 6, 2006 Fentress won\'t get new judge to hear request
By Larry Fisher-Hertz
RIVERHEAD, Suffolk County ó A state Supreme Court justice has rejected a request from confessed killer and cannibal Albert Fentress to assign a new judge to decide whether Fentress should be moved to a less secure mental hospital.
Lawyers for the former Poughkeepsie Middle School history teacher filed court papers in April asking Judge James M. Catterson to recuse himself from the case.
Fentress, 65, has been confined to mental institutions since 1980, when psychiatrists determined he was insane when he sexually mutilated, cannibalized and killed 18-year-old Paul Masters of the Town of Poughkeepsie in August 1979.
Under state law, Fentress may petition the court every two years and ask to be set free or be moved to a less secure mental facility.
In 2002, Catterson or-dered Fentress transferred from King's Park Psychiatric Center in Suffolk County to a locked ward at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center in Orange County. Catterson did so after two witnesses testified Fentress had molested them shortly before he killed Masters. Fentress had never acknowledged the incidents during his more than 20 years of therapy.
Attorneys for Mental Hygiene Legal Services petitioned Catterson to transfer Fentress's case to an Orange County judge. They contended it would be a hardship for Fentress to remain shackled while he is transported to Catterson's courtroom in the Suffolk County Court Annex in Riverhead. They argued because Fentress' doctors and counselors are based at the Orange County hospital, it would also be more convenient for them to testify before an Orange County judge.
In a decision made public Monday, Catterson rejected those arguments and said he intended to keep the case.
"(Fentress's) argument in support of a transfer to Orange County is that he will be subject to restraint while in transit from Orange County to Suffolk County and that such restraint will have a deleterious effect upon Mr. Fentress's psychological and physical health," Catterson wrote. "(Fentress) has failed to establish that the three-hour transit time will constitute an enormous hardship..."
One of Fentress' attorneys at Mental Hygiene Legal Services, Lisa Volpe, declined Monday to comment on Catterson's decision.
Lawyers from Mental Hygiene Legal Services, the Dutchess County District Attorney's Office and the state attorney general's office are scheduled to meet with Catterson this month to determine whether Fentress will appeal Catterson's ruling or whether a date should be set for a hearing in the case.
Larry Fisher-Hertz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org