A Missouri man who killed a Westchester County cop with his own gun 46 years ago is set to be released on parole despite efforts hoping to keep him behind bars.
Anthony Blanks, 69, could leave Sing Sing as soon as Oct. 18 after completing a community reintegration program, the state Department of Correction and Community Supervision said.
Blanks was convicted of first-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon after killing Larchmont Officer Arthur DeMatte with his own service gun in 1976.
The 20-year police veteran had been trying to remove Blanks from the New Haven Railroad track after receiving a call of someone interfering with trains.
Blanks approached DeMatte, grabbed his gun and ran away, but shot the officer in the chest when the cop began to pursue the criminal.
Blanks, who had walked to the Westchester town from New York City after arriving there from St. Louis several days earlier in search of a job, left the empty service weapon in the police car and hid in nearby shrubs, lohud.com reported. He was shot in the leg by responding officers and arrested.
The transient later said he had not eaten in two days and was high on PCP at the time of the murder.
Blanks was sentenced to 25-years- to-life in prison. He became eligible for parole in 2001, but has remained behind bars for another 21 years, likely due to strong opposition by DeMatte’s surviving family and the Larchmont police union.
Officer Dan Calapai, the Larchmont PBA president, told lohud that Blanks’ release from prison could be a result of the state’s switch from holding parole hearings every nine months instead of the traditional two years. More frequent hearings made it more difficult for people opposing parole to voice their concerns in time, he said.
“Our feelings are definitely that this is politically driven and it’s failing victims’ families,” Calapai said.
Clifford Jackson, a Larchmont man who began corresponding with Blanks three years ago, wrote to the parole board in support of Blanks’ release, claiming that the cop killer is no longer a “threat to society.”
“(Police) were looking for him to rot in jail … that this is a punitive action designed to destroy the person no matter the circumstances,” Jackson said. “He’s not a danger. He’s going to struggle to survive. It’s going to be hard for him just to get out of bed.”
Jackson argued that while Blanks is not absolved of the crime, he paid his debt and has shown remorse. The aging criminal is in poor health, he said.
Transcripts of Blanks’ parole interviews in recent years obtained by lohud show he hasn’t secured housing and has limited family support.