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Sources: Laffer's wife to plead guilty

David Laffer's wife of two years, Melinda Brady,

David Laffer's wife of two years, Melinda Brady, 29, was charged with third-degree robbery. (June 22, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Melinda Brady, the wife of the accused Medford drugstore killer, is expected to plead guilty Thursday for her role in the crime, two sources close to the case said Wednesday.

Based on an agreement finalized Wednesday night, said one source, Brady was to enter her plea on the same day that her husband, David Laffer, 33, also was set to plead guilty to murder and robbery charges. Brady's and Laffer's appearances were to be one after the other.

Prosecutors have charged Brady, 29, with robbery. They said she helped her husband plan the holdup, fashioned his disguise, drove the getaway car and helped him try to concoct an alibi afterward.

She is represented by the Legal Aid Society, which doesn't comment on cases.

Families of the four people shot to death in the Father's Day robbery said Wednesday they're relieved they won't have to experience a drawn-out trial that would include excruciating depictions of the killing spree.

"There is no need for the expense and turmoil of a trial," said Ray Malone, an uncle of Jaime Taccetta, one of the victims.

Laffer faces five counts of first-degree murder -- one for each of the four victims and a fifth because there were multiple murders -- and a robbery count over the 10,000 hydrocodone pills taken from Haven Drugs to feed his and his wife's addictions. He is expected to plead guilty as charged before Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

He is accused of killing pharmacist Raymond Ferguson, 45; drugstore employee Jennifer Mejia, 17; and customers Taccetta, 33, and Bryon Sheffield, 71.

Brady faces up to 25 years in prison. She cooperated with authorities and told them how the robbery was planned, according to court papers. Prosecutors have said she was not charged with murder because they could not prove she was aware that Laffer was armed or intended to kill anyone.

Although the families continue to feel anger and hurt, they said that continually reliving that day at extensive pretrial hearings and during the trial itself would have been difficult to bear.

"Assuming that Laffer remains subject to the maximum sentence for his crimes, our family does not take issue with the judge accepting the guilty plea," said a statement from Sheffield's family. "Our family is dealing with a loss, the magnitude of which words cannot possibly convey, and no legal proceedings will alter this stark reality for us. We would be relieved not to have our lives further disrupted by a trial, with the details of this senseless tragedy painfully replayed over an extended period of time."

Sheffield family representative Mark Moran said relatives are relieved they won't be exposed to the gruesome security video depicting the crimes, which would have been a centerpiece of a trial.

Other family members of victims said Wednesday they were satisfied that there would be a guilty plea.

"I have no problem with that," said Rene Mejia, Mejia's father. "Whatever they do, I have no problem with it."

The evidence against Laffer includes fingerprints at the scene that match his, the disassembled murder weapon recovered from his home and 2,000 of the 10,000 stolen pills, also recovered from the home. Authorities believe the rest were flushed down the toilet. The video from the drugstore's security camera shows the entire crime.

Images from it of the shooter led to a flood of phone calls to police, many of which identified Laffer, despite the man wearing a fake beard and sunglasses.

A woman who answered the phone at the home of Laffer's mother, who would not identify herself other than to say she was not Palma Laffer, said, "We won't be making any comments." There was no answer at the home of Brady's family.

With Bill Mason

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