Couple who aided aboriton doctor's killer are freed

Friday, August 22, 2003

NEW YORK -- A husband and wife who conspired to help the man who gunned down an abortion doctor in 1998 were freed Thursday after serving more than two years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Carol Amon, ruling after a two-day hearing, said sentencing guidelines precluded a longer prison term than the two years and five months Loretta Marra and Dennis Malvasi had already served.

But Amon told the couple that they had joined in "the very kind of evil you purport to abhor" and urged them to consider the seriousness of helping a killer.

Marra, 39, and Malvasi, 53, pleaded guilty in April to conspiring to harbor then-fugitive James Kopp in their Brooklyn apartment. Kopp was convicted this year of killing Dr. Barnett Slepian when he fired an assault rifle through a window of the doctor's home in suburban Buffalo.

During his plea, Malvasi said he knew Kopp was wanted when he offered to let him stay at his house. Marra admitted trying to wire Kopp several hundred dollars while he was hiding in Europe.

Outside court, Malvasi and Marra hugged their children, Louis, 7, and James, 4.

"I'm deliriously happy," Marra said. "I didn't dream this would happen today. I have been so accustomed to unjust treatment by the government that I thought it would never end."

Malvasi -- saying he had "lost everything," including his job, because of the case -- said he would be more careful about whom he invites into his home.

"I don't know James Kopp," he said. "I have never met James Kopp."

Kopp was one of the FBI's most-wanted fugitives until his arrest in France in 2001. Malvasi and Marra, arrested shortly after his capture, have been in prison while awaiting the disposition of their case.

The couple had a history of radical anti-abortion protest: Malvasi was convicted of firebombing a New York abortion clinic in 1987 and trying to bomb a second one. He served five years in prison.

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