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Brooklyn DA Seeks Death Penalty in Dismembering Case

September 25, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, a long-time opponent of capital punishment, plans to personally prosecute and seek the death penalty against a man accused of a gruesome dismemberment murder.

Hynes has not tried a case personally since 1987, when as a special prosecutor he got manslaughter convictions of three white men accused of chasing down and beating a black man to death in Howard Beach.

And no New York City prosecutor has sought the death penalty since it was reintroduced in the state in September 1995.

Hynes said Tuesday he would seek the execution of Michael Shane Hale, 24, charged with murdering, kidnapping and robbing, store owner Stefan Tanner, 62. The day Tanner vanished, he and Hale had argued over a clothing purchase and Tanner called police to remove Hale from the home they shared.

Hale allegedly kicked Tanner in the head, put a plastic bag over his head, stuffed him in the trunk of Tanner’s car, drove to Kentucky and cut the body up. Most of the remains were never found.

``I regard my decision in this case to be among the most difficult I have ever had to make, particularly since I have been a longtime opponent of the death penalty,″ Hynes told a news conference in his office.

Pauline Toole, a spokeswoman for the Capital Defender Office, which represents Hale, said that because of Hale’s age and lack of a prior record, ``the death penalty is not appropriate for this defendant.″

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