Federal charges against anti-abortion extremists Loretta Marra and Dennis Malvasi were dropped in Buffalo on Friday by District Judge Richard Arcarra, clearing the way for the trial to be moved to a federal court in New York City, according to Buffalo News. The couple admitted to helping James Charles Kopp avoid capture when he was wanted for the 1998 murder of abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian. They have been charged with obstruction of justice and aiding a fugitive, charges that carry a maximum sentence of ten years, according to the Associated Press.
Judge Arcarra refused on two occasions to accept a plea deal that would give Marra and Malvasi greatly reduced sentences agreed to by the defendants’ lawyers and US District Attorney Kathleen Mehltretter, who claimed that information that would damage the case against Kopp could be revealed at the Marra/Malvasi trial. Though Arcarra is skeptical of such a claim, he stated in his decision to dismiss the charges that if he had refused, federal prosecutors could have simply decided not to pursue the case against the couple, according to the Buffalo News. Arcarra accused the US Attorney’s office of “judge-shopping” and believes that when the charges are brought before another court, the plea deal he rejected will be “rubber-stamp[ed]” for approval, according to the Buffalo News.
Malvasi, who has been convicted in the bombings of three reproductive health clinics as well as the attempted bombing of a fourth clinic, has already served five years in prison. Marra, was twice arrested with Kopp during anti-abortion protests in Vermont and New York in the early 1990s. Kopp, who was at one time on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, is not only facing charges in the murder of Dr. Slepian, but also has been indicted for the 1995 shooting of Ontario abortion provider Dr. Hugh Short and is the primary suspect in three separate shootings of abortion providers in Canada and New York.