David Renz Murder Case Catalyst Behind Bill to End Failures of Pretrial Release Monitors

Jul 9, 2019

David Renz, in a 2013 file photo, after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. He was awaiting trial on those charges when he got out of an ankle monitor and committed the rape and murder.
Credit WAER File Photo

A Central New York citizen, who comforted a crime victim as she was dying, is the driving force behind a measure to reform pretrial release.  The bill in Congress by John Katko, (R, NY-24) seeks to improve electronic monitoring and other measures which can fail to disastrous ends.  The murder of Lori Bresnahan is the catalyst for the reform.


You might remember the case where David Renz was able to break off his ankle monitor without any response.  He then raped a 10-year-old girl and stab to death Lori Bresnahan.  David Cregg from Cicero found the girl along a roadside after she escaped Renz … then comforted Bresnahan as she died.  He says the failure of the ankle bracelet – and the monitoring that ignored 46 tampering warnings – is unfortunately not unique.

“Since the murder of Lori Bresnahan there have been nearly 60 additional murders committed by criminals wearing electronic monitors.  They include a Baltimore police officer, the head of corrections in the State of Colorado, and even a college student in Orlando, Florida, who was going to do his civic duty and testify in a home-invasion case.”

Bill Cregg has worked on the issue of failed ankle and other electronic monitors for years, after he was on the scene of the David Renz rape of a child and murder of Lori Bresnahan shortly after the crimes.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News / WAER FM

He’s researched the issue extensively, lobbying for reform and found an ally in John Katko, the former prosecutor, who knew all too well pre-trial release can be a risk.  Katko’s bill would instruct the General Accounting Office to review all communities’ practices and find how to improve home detention, ankle monitors or other devices – anything that’s supposed to keep the community safe when a suspect is let out of jail before trial. 

“You get put on pretrial release if you’re not considered a threat to the community or if there’s adequate measures that can be taken to make sure that you’re not a threat.  Obviously in the case that Bill described and so many others, we have failed in that mission.”

Katko announced the bill next to representatives from McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center and Vera House.  He notes that victims of abuse and domestic violence can be threatened – and harmed - by suspects of crimes against them if they get free.  Recent bail reform at the state level means judges will be keeping fewer people in jail before their trials … making any type of monitoring more critical to ensure safety.

“In New York State alone, this is going to be a very big issue because more and more people, I mean pre-trial release is basically guaranteed.  So you’re going to have people charged with very serious crimes that are going to be out on pre-trial release.  That’s going to be a nightmare for these folks.  So we’ve got to handle on, ‘what are the dangers; what have been the proven facts?’”

KATKO INTROUDCED THE LEGISLATION TUESDAY

Specifically, Bill’s Promise Act directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to:
(SOURCE: Katko Press Release)

  • Review monitoring practices for pre-trial release programs at the federal, state and local levels.
  • Outline response protocols when an ankle monitor or other electronic monitoring device signals that an individual is violating the terms of their release.
  • Provide data on offenses committed by individuals on pre-trial release over the past 10 years.
  • Examine potential issues impacting officer retention and the administration of pre-trial release services.
  • Issue recommendations to improve the administration of pre-trial release services.

He says the bill has bi-partisan sponsors … and if approved would be followed by measures to improve pre-trial release and monitoring programs.