SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Almost 25-years-ago a local man was convicted of murder. Last month, he was released from prison after getting COVID-19 and granted medical parole. Now, the victim’s daughter told Western Mass News she is frustrated her father’s killer is no longer behind bars.
Maureen Moriarty, the daughter of John Regan, better known as Jack, was emotional knowing that the man who killed her father is out of prison. On October 12, 1995, Jack met up with John Stote for a financial transaction, and that was the last time anyone saw him.
"My father went to meet John Stote. John owed him money for the sale of the bar, Carregeans Lounge, and when John Stote, him, 'I have cash for you, I'm all set to pay you.' My father met his midday by Maple Street in Springfield," Moriarty said.
That same day, Maureen got a call that her father was missing.
"I said, 'What does that mean? What does it mean Dad's missing?'" she said.
Maureen told Western Mass News, at first, Stote denied his involvement in the disappearance of her father.
"Then as time passed, facts revealed themselves, he had been brutally murdered by John Stote," she explained.
Jack’s body was eventually found in the Connecticut River. In 1997, Stote was convicted of first-degree murder without the possibility of parole and sentenced to life in prison at the Norfolk Correctional Institution.
"We felt relief. We felt some piece that justice had been done," Maureen added.
In 2018, a Massachusetts law passed, allowing the release of prisoners facing terminal illness or permanent incapacitation. Stote had been petitioning for medical parole since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The commissioner of the state's Department of Corrections denied all his requests.
Then at the beginning of this year, he contracted COVID-19. His lawyer, Mark Bluver, told Western Mass News Stote was put on a ventilator in dire condition. On January 21, Stote was granted medical parole.
"It appeared to everyone from a medical perspective that John was terminal, and as a result of that, in a written decision, the commissioner changed her mind and granted medical parole," Bluver explained.
Stote's daughter is frustrated. She said there is a loophole in the legislation and that it is misused. Besides, she said there are no rights provided to the families of victims.
"I have no right to appeal the decision," Maureen noted. "I have no right to a medical report to see how he’s doing or where he's going to be relocated to. He could be two streets down, and no one would know. He’s been transferred out of the hospital. But I’m not allowed to know where he's been transferred to."
State Representative Brian Ashe is co-sponsoring an amendment to the law. The law, introduced during the current legislative session. The amendment would not allow a prisoner convicted of first-degree murder to receive medical parole unless the prisoner was under 18-years-old at the time of the crime.
Ashe told Western Mass News the law, first introduced no one could have predicted the coronavirus pandemic. He said this amendment would correct that current law.
"It's not about stopping anyone from getting medical treatment that they need. It's not trying to be cilice, but it's thinking about the victim's family and not making them re-live the pain and horrors they had to live. Going through trials and or going through losing a loved one," Ashe added.
A pain Maureen and her three siblings are too familiar with.
"I would like this to never happen to another family. Victims go through enough," she said. "Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, or are reminded of him, or smile because of him. I'm crying because of him now. Not one day."
Under Stote’s medical parole plan, his daughter will become his caretaker. This decision was heartbreaking news for Maureen, who felt years with her father taken from her.
"How nice that he gets father, daughter time that he stole from me and my sister and brother," she said. "He took my daughter's grandfather. He took the grandfather away from my kids. He took away years and years of joy that we will never know."
Maureen told us she continues fighting for justice.
Bluver told Western Mass News Stote’s latest condition. He was able to take three steps, and it’s still too premature to know what type of restrictions may be implemented based on his physical condition.
Also, Western Mass News was told if someone is no longer qualifies for medical parole, the release could be withdrawn.