NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – A convicted killed is getting out of prison.
Kyle Cummings was granted parole last month after spending years behind bars for his role in the 2002 murder of Niagara Falls teenager Jennifer Bolender.
Her mother, Tina Berry, is horrified.
“I feel broken that this one was able to get out,” Berry said via a FaceTime call from Florida where she now lives.
Berry was there every day of the 2003 trials against the teens who stabbed her daughter in December 2002 and cut her throat, leaving 16-year-old Jennifer for dead on a pedestrian bridge over the LaSalle Expressway.
Even when prosecutors showed graphic photos of Jennifer’s body, Berry never looked away.
“It never leaves my mind. People talk about closure, and how it gets easier. I mean, I’m able to live a little bit, but it’s still there,” she said. “It’s a constant. It’s not something that will ever go away.”
She’s disappointed that Kyle Cummings, who got the lightest sentence of the three then-teens, will be free.
Cummings got 6 years to life in prison for pleading guilty to second degree murder and agreeing to testify against his brother, Christopher Cummings, and the main attacker, Daniel Pardee.
Those two are still in prison.
Daniel Pardee attacked Jennifer after she apparently refused his advances earlier that December night. Pardee used Kyle Cummings’ pocket knife to stab Bolender. Christopher Cummings cut her throat. All three tried to hide evidence of the crime.
“I wish it had happened [in Florida] because they would be in jail or prison, and they would never get out. Ever,” Berry said.
Cummings’ release is difficult for Niagara County District Caroline Wojtaszek, too, who prosecuted the case as a young assistant district attorney in 2003.
“This was probably one of the most horrific crimes that has happened in our community,” she said in 2003.
Wojtaszek feels the same more than 16 years later.
“Twenty-two years in this business, and I still to this day…believe that to be the most heinous, most horrible case that I’ve seen in this county,” she said.
Wojtaszek keeps a picture of Jennifer in her office.
“It just reminds me why I do this work,” she said. “He contributed to the taking of this 16-year-old’s life, and frankly 17 years is not enough.”
Today, people still maintain a memorial on the bridge.
Just over a year from now, Christopher Cummings will have a shot at parole in November 2020.
“It’s just hard to know that they’re considering to let them out. They’re monsters,” Berry said. “I will do every hearing and anything in my power to keep them in prison.”