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Parole board rejects Nassau cop killer's latest bid

John MacKenzie stands in an inmate visiting room

John MacKenzie stands in an inmate visiting room in the Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Sullivan County, NY. He is incarcerated for killing police officer Matthew Giglio in 1975. (June 6, 2008) Credit: Newsday File / Matthew Chayes

A state Parole Board Wednesday unanimously turned down a bid for freedom by the man convicted of murdering a Nassau County police officer during a botched burglary in 1975.

In a 3-0 decision, John MacKenzie, 63, was denied parole for the sixth time in a decade, and he will continue to serve time for the shooting death of Patrolman Matthew Giglio.

"My family and I are very relieved society will be safe at least from John MacKenzie," said Matthew Giglio Jr., one of Giglio's children. "We hope that he doesn't ever get out. . . . My dad didn't have a chance to live, so he doesn't deserve a chance to be paroled."

Giglio, 35, was responding to a call for assistance in the West Hempstead burglary of a clothing store on Oct. 7, 1975. Giglio confronted MacKenzie as he was leaving. MacKenzie fired a single shot at point-blank range into Giglio's chest. Giglio struggled for his life, lapsing in and out of a coma for 10 weeks. He died nine days before Christmas, leaving a grieving wife, Phyllis, and their three children: Doreen, then 10, Regina, 8, and Matthew, 4.

MacKenzie has served nearly 35 years of a 25-years-to-life prison sentence. He is eligible for parole again in 2012.

Giglio's children had rallied last week at the headquarters of the rank-and-file officers union, the Nassau Police Benevolent Association, urging that the board deny MacKenzie parole.

And state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), in an April 13 letter to the state Parole Board, urged that MacKenzie remain behind bars. "The duty of government is to protect all of its citizens from danger," Skelos wrote. "The release of Mr. MacKenzie places the public at risk and should not be allowed."

MacKenzie had argued that he's demonstrated that he's rehabilitated as shown by his good deeds, his deep regret for the crime and college degrees in prison as well as his spotless disciplinary record while in lockup.

But the board apparently did not agree MacKenzie ought to be free and ruled that there is "reasonable probability" MacKenzie would break the law if let out of prison, the medium security Woodbourne Correctional Facility in upstate Sullivan County.

"Your release at this time is incompatible with the welfare and safety of the community and will so depreciate the seriousness of this crime as to undermine respect for law," the board's decision stated, according to parole division spokeswoman Carole Weaver.

Parole Board members could not immediately be reached for comment. The PBA president, Jimmy Carver, said the union is satisfied.

"They did the right thing by denying his parole and keeping him behind bars where he belongs for the rest of his life," Carver said.

Upon hearing the news, MacKenzie telephoned the family of Carl Gervasi, a childhood friend who's offered to employ and house him if he were to be released, Gervasi said.

He described MacKenzie as disappointed but not surprised in the parole ruling. "I feel bad for the family but I think John did his time and I think he did what you call good time," he said.

With James T. Madore

and Zachary R. Dowdy

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