David Laffer staked out Haven Drugs the night before he opened fire inside the Medford pharmacy, leaving four , according to prosecutors.
The Medford man accused in the Father’s Day killings pleaded not guilty to multiple murder charges in a Riverhead courtroom Thursday afternoon.
Laffer, 33, is charged with five counts of first degree murder–one for each of the four victims and another for mass murder–under the indictment handed up by a grand jury.
Laffer, wearing a gray t-shirt and surrounded by court officers, said one word during the arraignment–"Yes," when asked if he wanted the court to appoint Mary Elizabeth Abbate as his attorney.
Laffer is also charged with four counts of criminal use of a firearm in the first degree. He remains held without bail.
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said Laffer killed the four people in the pharmacy—two employees and two customers—in order “to feed an ugly addiction to prescription painkillers.”
“In my view he should spend the rest of his life behind bars,” Spota said of Laffer at a press conference after the arraignment, “and without ever seeing the light of day, without any hope in the future of enjoying even one day of freedom.”
Spota said Laffer spent days looking for a pharmacy to rob before settling on Haven Drugs, located about two miles away from the Medford home Laffer shared with his wife, , and his mother.
Family members of the victims sat in the first few rows of the third-floor criminal courtroom Thursday. They were silent during the short arraignment.
At a arraignment in Central Islip last week, the uncle of slain Jaime Taccetta, Jim Fegel, at Laffer in court, “You’re a coward for what you did to these families."
Spota, speaking in the library of the DA’s office, revealed chilling new details about the murders, which took place shortly after the pharmacy opened at 10 a.m. on June 19.
Surveillance video from inside the store beings with a conversation between pharmacist Raymond Ferguson and employee . Mejia, 17, of East Patchogue, tells Ferguson that she went to the mall the night before with her mother to look for a graduation dress for her mother to wear to her upcoming from Bellport High School, Spota said.
Mejia also tells Ferguson that she had attended Mass on that Saturday evening.
“Those were virtually the last words that Ms. Mejia ever spoke,” Spota said.
Laffer then walked into store, headed directly to the pharmacy counter and placed a black backpack, with his right hand inside it, on the counter, Spota said.
Laffer then engaged Ferguson in a conversation about the interaction of certain medications before he interrupted himself and asked Mejia if he could speak in private with the pharmacist, Spota said.
Mejia stepped away into a small alcove and during what Spota called a “very, very normal conversation” between Laffer and Ferguson, the video shows the backpack beginning to rise and “without any demand whatsoever for drugs or money, he [Laffer] shoots Mr. Ferguson in the abdomen through the backpack,” Spota said.
With Ferguson clutching his stomach and lying on the floor, Laffer walked behind the counter, now with a .45-caliber pistol in view, and shot Mejia twice, killing her. He then walked back over to Ferguson and shot him twice in the face at point blank range, Spota said.
Neither Ferguson nor Mejia was supposed to be at the store that morning, as they had volunteered to work to give other employees the day off to enjoy Father’s Day with their families, Spota said.
“That generous gesture unfortunately cost them their lives,” he said.
After gunning down the two employees, Laffer began to look for drugs behind the counter, but he was soon interrupted. As he saw someone approach the pharmacy, Laffer ran to the front near the door and hid, Spota said.
As 71-year-old Bryon Sheffield, of Medford, entered the pharmacy, Laffer came up behind him and shot him in the back of the head. He did the same thing to Taccetta, 33, of Farmingville, moments later when she walked into the store, Spota said.
“Not one person ever resisted,” he said. “They [Sheffield and Taccetta] never even knew the killer was in the store, yet he executed them in cold blood.”
Prosecutors say Laffer left two fingerprints on a sign posted at the pharmacy and that shell casings from the scene match the type of weapon Laffer owned.
Surveillance video from a nearby convenience store, taken 30-40 minutes after the shootings, show Laffer and his wife “purchasing a beverage as if nothing had ever happened,” Spota said, adding that he believed the two purposefully went to the store to “set up an alibi.”
Police recovered 1,000 hydrocodone pills from the upstairs portion of Laffer's home on Pitchpine Place where he and his wife were three days after the shootings.
Melinda Brady also charges in connection with the shootings. Police say she drove Laffer to and from the scene of the murders.
Brady, 29, is currently charged with third degree robbery and obstructing governmental administration, although prosecutors have said those charges are "very likely" to be upgraded.
Spota deflected questions regarding Brady’s involvement in the crime at the press conference.
Laffer is due back in court in September with a jury trial expected to begin at the start of 2012.