MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — The teen who killed a 4-year-old girl with his family’s SUV last year was taken back into police custody Wednesday when a judge rescinded his bail offer, prompting his mother to cry out for mercy as her son was handcuffed.
The recent indictment of Franklin Reyes, 18, for petit larceny makes him a flight risk, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Gregory A. Carro ruled Wednesday, setting Reyes' new bail at $50,000. Reyes had been out on $25,000 bail since June 2013.
The extended family of Ariel Russo, who was killed by Reyes in a June 4, 2013 crash, erupted with shouts of joy and clapping at Carro’s decision, while Reyes’ mother launched into an angry outburst that prompted officers to forcibly remove her from the courtroom.
Standing up and thrusting her arms in the air with each word, she shouted, "My son didn’t plan it! He was an ordinary kid...Have mercy, have mercy."
A member of Russo's group yell back, “she was 4 years old.”
As she was hauled out of the room, Reyes’ mother pleaded, “he was only 17,” of her son's age at the time of the crash.
In early June of this year, Reyes allegedly stole thousands of dollars in jewelry and cash from a dead woman’s apartment and was seen leaving her apartment with a camera around his neck that was later reported missing by the woman’s executors.
Reyes’s lawyer, Martin Schmukler, has insisted on his innocence.
“I think a polygraph should be administered to that witness,” Schmukler said.
Carro did not rule on whether Reyes would still be granted youthful offender status as he had promised, in light of the new charges against him.
A youthful offender designation would mean Reyes could serve anywhere from 16 months to four years, instead of between five and 15 years if he’s convicted of manslaughter as an adult.
“My impression is that [Carro’s] not going to deny [youthful offender status],” Schmukler said.
The attorney characterized making bail as a “struggle” for Reyes' family, but said that they “have enough friends and family” to pull the funds together.
“It’s a very sad moment,” Schmukler said.
Carro set a Sept. 24 trial date, but Schmukler said he did not know yet whether his client would enter a plea at that time.
For the Russos, turning up for every court date has not gotten any easier with time, they said.
“I can’t believe she would say that to me,” said a shocked and tearful Sofia Russo, Ariel's mother, of Reyes' mother's outburst.
“Her child is still alive. I had to see my child lying dead on a hospital stretcher."