Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- When David Renz faced federal child pornography charges weeks before he was accused of murdering Liverpool librarian Lori Bresnahan and raping a 10-year-old child, there were already signs of a troubled past. But, those records were sealed and bail was granted.
"It would have been helpful to know the full content of what the juvenile record was about. That is a cumbersome process and within the federal system, the defendant is entitled to a bail hearing within three days of his arrest,” said John Duncan, Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Protecting juvenile records is a matter of law and getting them unsealed is a familiar challenge for prosecutors.
"There is no reason in the world why the District Attorney's Office, State Police, and the U.S. Attorney should jump through hoops to find out what somebody did when they were the precious age of 14, 15, or 16,” said Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick.
The DA's office is quick to defend the judge in Renz's pornography case, saying Honorable Andrew Baxter had limited details when bail was granted and acted within the scope of the law.
"I really do not think the criticism is fair,” said Chief Assistant District Attorney Matthew Doran. "Our system does not allow and it shouldn't allow for everybody who is accused of a crime, to just be locked up and held in jail until their day in court."
According to court records, Renz did get a stern warning when Baxter released him with an ankle bracelet: "....the court, frankly, has concerns about your release, and so you need to make sure you take these conditions very seriously and that you don't do anything, in spite of your obvious skills with computers, to try to get around those conditions."
After cutting his ankle bracelet weeks later, police believe Renz forced Lori Bresnahan and a 10-year old child into a car at Great Northern Mall and attacked them. He now faces charges including first degree murder and rape.
"The impact of this, everyone feels it, from the judiciary on down and obviously people will be looking at release of subjects in this situation in a different light in the future,” Duncan continued.
The rules for unsealing juvenile records can only be modified by legislators. Though the DA’s Office told NewsChannel 9 it’s unlikely Renz’s record as a teen would affect the murder case against him. Fitzpatrick said he will argue that child pornography charges should be admissible, based on his belief that Renz attempted to mirror some of the acts that he allegedly downloaded, with his victims.