A man serving 50 years to life for the killings of a woman and her infant son will stay in prison, an appeals court ruled Thursday.
Kareem Y. Hayes, 36, pleaded guilty in 2006 to the slayings of Hillary Downey and her 13-month-old son that January.
He admitted to stabbing Downey 33 times with a kitchen knife on Jan. 14, 2006, inside her 902 Congress St. apartment so she wouldn’t turn him in for stealing from her.
He then looted her apartment, selling the spoils for drugs. He returned from a crack run hours later to kill her infant son, Romello, then stayed in the apartment for two more days until he was discovered by relatives of the victim and police.
Hayes appealed, arguing that a decision to allow statements he made to police was incorrect. The decision prompted his guilty plea. He also argued that the sentence was too harsh.
The issue centered on comments Hayes made as he was being taken back to the scene, that he should be taken straight to jail and that Downey and the baby were already dead. He later gave police two written statements admitting to the killings.
Hayes, represented in the appeal by attorney Mark Sacco, argued that after he was ordered into the police car to return to the scene, he was restrained and any subsequent statements were inadmissible.
The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, however, disagreed. The officers who stopped him after he fled Downey’s apartment had more than enough cause to stop him and question him, the court said. He had been named by Downey two weeks earlier as a suspect in a burglary, he had just been seen fleeing from her apartment by her relatives and she hadn’t been heard from in days.
The court also found that the sentence — two consecutive 25 years-to-life terms — was not excessive.
“The sentences imposed were clearly in proportion to the heinous nature of the crimes for which the defendant stands convicted and were not, by any fair measure, either harsh or excessive,” the court ruled.
The sentence itself was the longest sentence to come from a plea deal. The case was one that shocked even hardened police detectives.
Hayes had a long criminal history of misdemeanors and felonies, and Downey’s parents have since worked to toughen misdemeanor statutes for repeat offenders, meeting with legislators to promote their cause.