Ex-EMT Admits to Posting Corpse Photos on Facebook
Mark Musarella, 47, of Annadale, was an EMT assigned to Richmond University Medical Center, West Brighton, when he snapped a photo with his Blackberry of murder victim Caroline Wimmer, 26, in her Greenleaf Avenue home on March 30, 2009. Afterward, he post
New York Daily News via YellowBrix
December 13, 2010
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Martha and Ronald Wimmer kissed and embraced in court yesterday after a former emergency medical technician admitted he posted a photo of their murdered daughter’s corpse on the Internet last year.
And while Mark Musarella, 47, must surrender his EMT license and perform 200 hours of community service, the couple was pained that the Oakwood Beach resident will avoid jail.
The Wimmers say stiffer sanctions must be imposed for such crimes, and they are working with state Sen. Diane Savino to have a bill drafted that will make it a felony for EMT, police and Fire Department personnel to take victims’ photos and post them on the Web.
Currently, the crime, official misconduct, to which Musarella pleaded guilty, is a misdemeanor. It was the top count against him.
“I’d love to see him go to jail but it wasn’t going to happen” under existing law, Wimmer said outside Stapleton Criminal Court.
“Unfortunately, the laws are still in the Stone Age,” said Mrs. Wimmer. “We need to get into the computer age and make it a felony.”
Sen. Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn) confirmed discussions with the Rosebank residents and said she hopes to craft legislation to stiffen penalties for such crimes and “prevent this from happening again.”
Musarella was an EMT assigned to Richmond University Medical Center, West Brighton, on March 30, 2009, when he snapped a photo with his BlackBerry of murdered Caroline Wimmer, 26, in her Greenleaf Avenue home. He had responded to a radio call at her apartment.
Afterward, he posted the shot of Ms. Wimmer’s corpse on his Facebook page.
Taking the photo for his personal use violated Fire Department regulations for emergency medical service workers, said District Attorney Daniel Donovan.
Musarella, a retired and decorated NYPD Emergency Services Unit detective, was later fired from RUMC.
Prosecutors said Brooklyn resident Calvin Lawson killed Ms. Wimmer on March 28, 2009, over allegations that she’d told his girlfriend, the mother of his two children, that he was cheating on her with another woman.
Her parents found her lifeless body two days later.
In May, a jury in state Supreme Court, St. George, convicted Lawson, 30, of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to the maximum of 25 years to life in prison.
Musarella made no statements in court yesterday beyond responding, “Yes,” to a series of questions, including whether he had taken and posted the victim’s photo and wished to plead guilty.
A stocky, dark-haired man with a goatee, he was garbed in a dark suit and tie.
Afterward, Musarella left the court quickly, accompanied by an unidentified man.
His lawyer, Edward J. Pavia Jr., said Musarella was distraught over the incident. He said the defendant accidentally posted the photo, thinking he had actually uploaded another one.
“My client has nothing but remorse for any pain he caused the victim’s family. He feels terribly that this happened,” said Pavia, a member of the Eltingville firm Jonathan D’Agostino & Associates. “He indicated all along that this occurred as a result of a mechanical error, a mistake. Hopefully, this [plea] will give some closure to my client and the victim’s family.”
Under the agreement, Musarella must perform 200 hours of community service. He must also surrender his EMT license and agree not to apply for one in the future.
If he complies with those conditions, the official misconduct conviction will be vacated. Judge Charles M. Troia will sentence Musarella in March to a conditional discharge for disorderly conduct, a violation, to which he also pleaded guilty yesterday.
Donovan said the deal ensures that Musarella loses his EMT license. He would not have been required to relinquish it even had he been convicted at trial of official misconduct, said the D.A., who called Musarella’s actions “cold and indifferent.”
Assistant District Attorney Guy Tardanico is prosecuting the case.
Sources said Musarella retired several years ago from the NYPD.
During his career there, he made headlines for a number of rescues.
While off-duty in 2005, Musarella saved a man from a burning car. In 1999, he helped save a mother and daughter who had fallen off a capsized boat during a flood. Three years earlier, he helped rescue a fleeing suspect who had jumped into the water near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and also grabbed a homeless man who threatened to leap off a pier.
In a telephone interview, the Wimmers’ lawyer, Ravi Batra, said the couple is contemplating filing a federal lawsuit over the episode. The action could be brought early next year, he said.