I heard last week that Bryan Redden, the man who killed a mother and 4-year-old child in Glens Falls last summer, has been having second thoughts about his plea deal. (He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and second-degree murder last month, agreeing to serve up to 44-years-to-life in state prison.)
He had purportedly sent some letters to Warren County Judge John Hall and Warren County District Attorney Jason Carusone, but they weren't in the court file. His lawyer acknowledged the correspondence, but I couldn't initially get my hands on the letters.
So I thought I would try to find out from Redden whether he was trying to back out of of his plea deal. I called Sheriff Bud York and asked if jail staff would see if Redden would meet with me. Media often try to see if inmates in notorious cases want to talk to us, but they rarely do, either because of their advice of their counsel, not wanting to hurt their case or because they just don't like the media that have written about them.
A few minutes later, York called back. "He says he'll meet with you," he said.
Minutes later, Hall's office provided me with copies of the letters I had been seeking. But with Redden agreeing to talk, I drove north to the county jail, hoping he wouldn't change his mind.
It had been nearly six months since Redden brutally murdered Crystal Riley and Lilly Frasier, but no one knew what led to the unthinkable violence. He confessed to police after his arrest, but has never told them or anyone else that I know of what prompted him to take the lives of his friend and her daughter.
Jail staff put us in one of the "no-contact" rooms off the main visiting room. (The last time I was in that room was to interview a serial rapist a decade or so ago.)
The correction officer who escorted me in said Redden did not want his picture taken. I asked him if I could record the conversation with my phone, and he said he was fine with that.
He said he was glad someone wanted to hear his side of the story.
We talked for about 45 minutes, Redden was emotional, and seemed legitimately remorseful. But is that remorse because his life is ruined, or because he ruined the lives of so many others? Did he see the meeting as a chance to try to lobby for a lesser sentence?
He says he "blacked out" and doesn't remember what happened. That is a common excuse among criminals who commit crimes like Redden's, or even less serious ones. They somehow don't recall the act or acts that changed their lives and those of so many others. We see it over and over in court, and I wonder how much of it is true.
I'm not sure I believe him, particularly since he purportedly told police details of the killings that haven't been made public and parts of his story didn't ring true. But he stuck to that story Friday, and wouldn't say much about the relationship he had with Frasier.
I left the jail with many questions unanswered. And it seems clear the main question that many have asked over and over, "Why?" won't be answered anytime soon.
-- Don Lehman
— Don Lehman