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Laffer's wife: Plan was to 'only threaten,' not kill

Melinda Brady, wife of David Laffer, is brought

Melinda Brady, wife of David Laffer, is brought into Suffolk County arraignment court in Central Islip. (June 24, 2011) Photo Credit: Pool / Kathy Kmonicek

They planned to rob, but not to kill, the wife of a man accused of gunning down four people in a Medford pharmacy told detectives.

Melinda Brady, 29, spent last Saturday night in her Medford home with her husband, David Laffer, helping him with a disguise: a fake beard and a hat, according to her account. She admitted giving Laffer a prescription written to her and driving him to and from Haven Drugs.

Brady's "accomplice," as described in court documents, was supposed to "only threaten the pharmacist to steal drugs." But police say Laffer, 33, shot and killed a pharmacist, his teenage assistant and two customers on Father's Day with no warning. The felony complaints filed Friday in First District Court in Central Islip do not include a motive.

Assistant District Attorney James Chalifoux said Brady was charged "based on her admitted role in what I submit is the most horrific and chilling robbery murder in Suffolk County history."

Brady did not speak in court Friday morning when she appeared before Judge Toni Bean for her arraignment. She showed no emotion when a prosecutor said the top charge against her, third-degree robbery, would "very likely" be upgraded.

She wore a yellow T-shirt, black shorts, yellow socks and sneakers -- the same outfit she had on when she and Laffer were arrested at their Pitchpine Place home Wednesday.

The court proceeding came on a day when two of the shooting victims -- the youngest, Jennifer Mejia, 17, of Medford, and the oldest, Bryon Sheffield, 71, of Medford -- were being remembered at funeral services. Services for Jaime Taccetta, 33, of Farmingville, and Raymond Ferguson, 45, of Centereach, are set for Saturday.

Chalifoux said Brady also stands accused of obstruction of governmental administration for allegedly grabbing the leg of a law enforcement agent who was trying to arrest her husband.

Brady pleaded not guilty to both charges and was ordered held at Suffolk County Jail in Riverside on $750,000 cash bail or $1.5 million bond. Her attorney, Jeremy Mis, said she can't make bail.

Brady intends to testify before a grand jury set to convene Monday, Mis said. Police have said she cooperated with detectives after they raided the couple's Medford home.

Police have described both Laffer and Brady as drug abusers. Friends who declined to be identified said Brady had health problems that caused her chronic pain. Last weekend, Brady "was trying to find out if anyone knew what hospital she can go to to get a script for pain pills," one friend said.

Brady was taken Thursday to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown for an undisclosed ailment and released Friday morning, heading straight to court.

Laffer has been charged with first-degree murder and resisting arrest and remains held without bail. He pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

His wife, speaking to reporters while in police custody, said her husband "did all of this."

"He was doing it because he lost his job and because I was sick," Brady said.

John Collins, chief trial prosecutor for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, said Laffer carried out a senseless and methodical execution, ambushing two customers after gunning down a young clerk and then returning to shoot a helpless pharmacist he'd shot before.

The crime was caught on store surveillance video, authorities said. After the shootings, a police source said, Laffer stole more than 10,000 painkiller pills before leaving the store.

Both Laffer and Brady are on suicide watch.

Sheriff's office Chief of Staff Michael Sharkey said Laffer will wear "special clothing" -- a so-called suicide smock -- so that he can't hang himself with his own garments.

Laffer is isolated from other prisoners at the Suffolk County Jail, the county sheriff's office said. He has no cell mate and is under constant visual observation by a guard.

"They're well aware of the current events," Sharkey said of Laffer's fellow inmates.

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