Dalton Smith, 30, of Hempstead, N.Y., was identified as the gunman who also was shot to death in the May 17 break-in near Hofstra University.
(Photo: Courtesy of Nassau County (N.Y.) Police)
Westchester County, N.Y. -- The home-invasion suspect killed along with Hofstra University junior Andrea Rebello last week told a parole board two years ago that he was no longer a Crips gang member, wanted to continue his college education and wanted to take care of himself in ways other than committing armed robberies.
"I am definitely a better person now," Dalton Smith told the panel in August 2011, according to a transcript obtained by The Journal News. "The only way to prove that is getting into society."
Police said Smith was holding Rebello at gunpoint when Nassau County Officer Nikolas Budimlic opened fire in a house near the Hofstra campus early May 17.
At the time of the parole hearing, Smith was serving a 10-year term for a 2003 attempted robbery, having pointed a .45-caliber revolver at the owners of a delicatessen, demanding money. The parole board asked him to explain his violent past.
"I was young, I was hanging with the wrong crowd and ultimately I made bad decisions that I have to take responsibility for," he answered. "I owe a debt to society and that debt will not be fully paid until I am a member of society and succeeding, being a productive member of society."
He insisted that his co-defendants had provided him with the gun and that it hadn't been loaded.
Smith said he wanted to become a counselor, maybe for sexually abused children or drug addicts.
"I learned one thing that I didn't know before, is if you want to change, the opportunity is there," he said.
While the panel commended him for his educational and rehabilitative efforts - he took online college courses and completed a program to combat aggressive behavior - he was denied discretionary parole "due to concern for the public safety and welfare." He was ordered to serve his full sentence, although state law provided for a conditional release date before that.
Smith was paroled in May 2012 but returned to custody in July after failing to stay in contact with his parole officer. In October 2012, he faced an extra 12 months in prison, unless he completed a 90-day drug treatment program. He did and was returned to parole supervision in February.
Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President James Carver, who has defended Budimlic's actions against criticism that he acted too hastily, said Smith was the only one responsible for Rebello's death.
Rebello was laid to rest after a funeral Mass on Wednesday.
Written By Jonathan Bandler, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal New