February 14, 2003
Valentine's Day isn't happy for everyone

Today is the day that Robert Chambers, the so-called "Preppy Killer", gets out of jail after serving all 15 years of his plea-bargained sentence for the murder of Jennifer Levin in 1986.

Chambers confessed in 1988 to strangling 18-year-old Jennifer Levin two years earlier. He claimed it was an accident while they were allegedly having rough sex; prosecutors said he killed her in a rage.

Wearing a red sweater and green pants, Chambers ignored a phalanx of reporters as he walked out of Auburn Correctional Facility at 7:15 a.m., got into a van and rode off.

On the eve of his release, Chambers issued a statement of regret through his lawyer.

"There has not been a day since Jennifer Levin's death that I have not regretted my actions on that day," the one-paragraph statement said. "I know that the Levin family continues to suffer her loss, and I am deeply sorry for the grief I have caused them."

You can take his remorse with a grain of salt, for he clearly felt none in previous years, even when appearing before the parole board:

[H]e has never shown any public remorse for what he has done. At a 1995 parole hearing, he made the curious statement: "I guess I could also give you the party line and say I have learned my lesson, I will never do this again, but that's not how I feel at the moment."

That quote comes from Court TV's Crime Library, which has all of the details of this case. Don't read it if your blood pressure is already elevated. I generally have little use for the victims' rights groups today, but it's useful to remember that there was a need for them in those days. The treatment of Jennifer Levin by the media and Chambers' defense team was nothing short of atrocious. Years later, the New York Post is still using headlines like KINKY SEX, EARLY DEATH and saying things like this:

ON a balmy summer evening in 1986, two boozed-up teens strolled into Central Park for a frenzied sexual tryst.

Only one of them left the park alive.

It gets worse from there.

My heart goes out to Jennifer's parents. May they someday find peace.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 14, 2003 to Crime and Punishment | TrackBack