Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Crime Scene Photo Put On Facebook: May Lead to “Caroline’s Law”

Caroline Wimmer was a 26yr old female living in an apartment on Greenleaf Avenue in West Brighton, Staten Island. Concerned that they hadn’t heard from her in days, her parents, Ronald and Martha Wimmer, went to her apartment to check up on her. Ronald stayed in the car while Martha went in to check on Caroline. Upon arriving at the front door, Martha saw that it was ajar; this had her frightened. When Martha entered the bathroom her worst fears were confirmed: she found Caroline dead on the floor of her bathroom at about 12:30p.m., with a hair dryer cord cinched around her neck.

For the family, it was the second time tragedy had struck in recent months, as Wimmer's older brother Angelo, 40, died the past November in a car accident. The family was now lamenting over a son and a daughter. It was later determined that Caroline was murdered on 28 March 2009. Twenty-eight-yr-old Calvin Lawson of The Bronx was convicted of the killing in May of 2010, and is currently servicing a sentence of 25 years to life for second-degree murder. Nonetheless, here is where the story takes an even more bizarre turn…

Apparently, 46-year-old EMT and former NYPD Emergency Services Unit detective, Mark Musarella (a.k.a. “Moose”), snapped a picture of Caroline Wimmer’s lifeless body with his cell phone and placed it on his Facebook page. When the couple got wind of this, they were understandably furious.

As frustrated parents, Mr. & Mrs. Wimmer contacted NY State Senator, Diane J. Savino, to help them seek legislation to increase the penalties for those who violate a family in this manner. Senator Savino introduced a Bill to the Senate that would “make it a felony for public servants to publish an image of a crime scene outside of their official duties.” The Bill, known as “Caroline’s Law,” is punishable by one to four years in prison--a Class E Felony. The Bill must go through the Codes Committee before it reaches the Senate floor. This is expected to occur by 30 March 2011, according to Senator Savino. “If the Bill moves through the Codes Committee,” Savino said, “it is guaranteed passage in the New York State Senate.”

Musarella pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge in December. As a part of that plea deal, Musarella agreed to give up his EMT license and complete 200 hours of community service, but received no jail time. In response, Mrs. Wimmer barked at the miscarriage of justice, making the analogy that Musarella’s sentence was comparable to “what someone gets for littering on the street.”

The parents are suing their daughter’s convicted murderer Calvin Lawson, paramedic Musarella, the city of New York and Greenleaf Arms Incorporated—the company that owns the apartment building where Wimmer's body was found. The pair are also suing Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano and Richmond University Medical Center, where Musarella had been employed. “This lawsuit assumes traditional defendants as well as nontraditional defendants, including the City of New York and Facebook, that are unique to this case arising out of cybercrime,” said Ravi Batra, the couple’s attorney.

The lawsuit asks Facebook to turn over the picture, find out who has viewed or downloaded it and destroy images in its possession. The suit also demands that Facebook cooperate with victims in the future. CNN contacted Facebook and a representative for the social media site (Andrew Noyes) said that the suit against them is “completely without merit,” and that they will “fight them vigorously.”

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe how much Facebook take no responsibility for actions on it's site. It seem Facebook has now permeated every area of law. In Australia, it's estimated that photos/comments from social media are being used to discredit people in 20% of Family Court proceedings. In the UK, a spouse’s behaviour on Facebook is now cited in a third of UK divorces in which unreasonable behaviour was a factor. Unfortunately, social media's impact on family law does not stop there - as it’s also now a major tool for divorce-related bullying (e.g. continuing communication, posting nasty messages, hacking accounts, etc). More: Family & The Law (Family Law Portal)