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Man who shot and killed NY trooper granted parole

NYS State Police Benevolent Association President Thomas H. Mungeer called the parole board’s decision “a travesty of justice”


Pictured is Emerson Dillon.

Photo/NY State Police

By Elizabeth Doran
Syracuse Media Group, N.Y.

NEW YORK — John Ruzas, a man who shot to death New York State Trooper Emerson Dillon on the Thruway near Canastota in 1974, has been granted parole, a state corrections department spokeswoman said Monday.

Ruzas, who was 32 at the time and is now in 74, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. This was his 11th try to get parole.

Ruzas and another man had just robbed a jewelry store in DeWitt in 1974 when the police officer stopped the car for speeding on the Thruway. Ruzas shot and killed Dillon.

NYS State Police Benevolent Association President Thomas H. Mungeer today called the parole board’s decision “a travesty of justice.”

Ruzas could be released from Fishkill Correctional Facility as early as Dec. 18, said Rachel Heath, speaking for the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. However, he must have approved housing in place prior to his release, she said.

The parole board had recently rejected parole for Ruzas twice, but a judge from the Hudson Valley ordered the board to hear his case a third time

State judge Victor Grossman earlier this year barred the parole board from considering dozens of opposition letters from law enforcement protesting Ruzas’ possible release. He also held the board in contempt.

The judge said considering those letters violated the law, and then ordered a whole new parole board to consider Ruzas’ bid for release.

In his 14-page decision, Grossman insisted that he wasn’t ordering the parole board to ignore community opposition to Ruzas’s release. But the judge said only those people defined under law -- namely, the victim’s family and representatives -- could be considered by a parole board.

Grossman noted that Ruzas is nearly 75 years old and needs a cane or a wheelchair to get around. He’s hard of hearing. And he’s had a clean prison record since 1990 and has repeatedly acknowledged guilt and expressed remorse, the judge said.

PBA’s Mungeer disagreed with the judge’s decision.

“We were precluded from having a say in the matter,” he said. “The family had to fight this on their own.”

Mungeer said it’s unfair that the parole board could accept letters of support in Ruzas’s favor, but none from law enforcement.

©2017 Syracuse Media Group, N.Y.