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Prosecutors Defend Bail Recommendation In Woman’s Murder

May 7, 1994

BOSTON (AP) _ A security guard accused of killing his wife had been arrested less than a month earlier for allegedly choking her and spraying her with Mace - but was free on $5,000 bail.

Prosecutors on Saturday defended their bail recommendation for Robert Bianchi Jr., saying $5,000 cash was an unusually high amount for assault. But they also called for a change in bail laws.

Bianchi had been accused of spraying his wife, Donna, with Mace, biting off the tip of her finger and choking her with a night stick and his hands in their Medford home April 17. He pleaded innocent.

On Friday morning, he allegedly chased his wife down a street in Revere, where she was dropping off their 8-month-old son at a relative’s house, and shot her to death.

Police found Bianchi later Friday along a highway in Elizabeth, N.J., about 200 miles away. He apparently had taken an overdose of pills.

Bianchi, 31, was in guarded condition Saturday at Elizabeth Medical Center, a spokeswoman said. She did not know what kind of pills he took.

Middlesex County District Attorney’s spokesman Jill Reilly said ″nothing went wrong″ in the handling of Bianchi’s alleged attack in April.

She said the $5,000 cash bail was recommended by prosecutors and accepted by Somerville District Court Judge Paul Menton.

Only people accused of murder and people who defaulted on prior court appearances generally get higher bail, she said. Bianchi was charged with assault with intent to murder.

There was no comment Saturday from Menton; his telephone number is unlisted.

Under state law, a judge may evaluate only a defendant’s risk of flight, not the danger he poses, when setting bail.

The Legislature passed a law that would have allowed a judge to evaluate a defendant’s potential danger, but it was struck down in court. Now, state lawmakers are trying to craft a proposal that will pass constitutional muster.

″As a system we need to do better with stronger bail laws that will help,″ said Suffolk County District Attorney Ralph Martin, who has jurisdiction over the Revere shooting.

Police said Mrs. Bianchi, 24, had gotten a restraining order against her husband, which was renewed last month.

Bianchi was convicted in 1985 on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and kidnapping, The Boston Globe reported Saturday.

Reilly said she didn’t know if prosecutors were aware of his record when Bianchi was arraigned on the assault charges April 19.

Update hourly