2004-09-16 / View From the Middle

Canarsie Cop Killer Will Now Have A Harder Time Getting Paroled View From The Middle

By Charles Rogers

If Sal DeSarno thought his chances of getting an early parole were slim last week, he can think even more negatively now, especially in light of the murder of two detectives last Friday night not a great distance from where he committed a similar murder 24 years ago.

We wrote about DeSarno in last week’s issue, describing how his wife, Linda, police and other like-minded advocates from every part of the nation were petitioning the parole board in Albany to turn down this, his first request for a release from his term in prison for murdering Police Officer Cecil “Frank” Sledge of the 69th Precinct in 1980. DeSarno has served 24 years of his 25-to-life sentence and, yes, has a right to go before the parole board for the first time early in November.

Linda Sledge has requested the help of police organizations — and has received it — in getting signatures on petitions, etc. to block DeSarno’s re-lease. With the deaths of Detective Patrick Rafferty and Detective Robert Parker of the 67th Precinct last Friday — the day before the third anniversary of the 9/11/01 attack on the World Trade Center — publicity alone will help Linda Sledge’s cause.

As a spokesman for the Police Benevolent Association (PBA — the police officers’ union) said recently, they want to send the message that “no killer of a police officer should ever expect to get out of prison.”

As with Frank Sledge, the two detectives were on duty at about 8:20 p.m. and had gone to the aid of the mother of Marlon Legere, 29, who, she said, had scared her and taken her car. She knew the detectives from having complained about her son to them be-fore and they were the kind of guys who would gladly come to her aid. When they arrived at the woman’s home on East 49 Street near Snyder Avenue, her son had already departed with her car, so they decided to sit outside in their car to wait for him to return.

A short time later he pulled up in her car and the detectives began to question him, at which time, police sources said in a later report, he took one of their guns and shot both men, killing them. Legere was also wounded in the shootout. He commandeered a car, carjacking it, and drove to a home on Brooklyn Avenue, where police traced and captured him.

In the 1980 case, Officer Frank Sledge was questioning Sal — called “Crazy Sal” by those who knew him — at the corner of East 79 Street and Flatlands Avenue when DeSarno pulled out a gun and shot the officer in the chest. When he fell, Sledge’s belt got caught on the bumper of the car DeSarno was driving and the officer was dragged almost 20 blocks until the murderer crashed into a light pole at the corner of Flatlands Avenue and Avenue I. DeSarno ran into a nearby house and held a standoff with cops until he gave up a half-hour later.

It is ironic that we had just recalled and printed the background on that case last week; ironic that the publicity incurred with the latest case might have a bearing on the earlier one.

Odd — and fitting — that the fate of a man who cold-bloodedly murdered one of New York’s Finest might be determined by a thug who has confessed to cold-bloodedly murdering two more of New York’s Finest.

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