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Shenkman can't silence ex-wife

By Karen Florin

Publication: The Day

Published August 15. 2009 4:00AM   Updated August 26. 2009 2:24PM
MICHAEL McANDREWS, Pool/AP
Accused kidnapper and arsonist Richard Shenkman, left, appears in Hartford Superior Court Friday before Judge David P. Gold with his attorney Hugh Keefe.
Accused kidnapper fails again in bid for gag order

Richard J. Shenkman, who is facing charges related to a July 7 hostage ordeal in South Windsor, wants his ex-wife to stop talking to the media.

The 60-year-old former public relations executive appeared briefly in Hartford Superior Court Friday on charges related to his alleged kidnapping of his ex-wife, Nancy P. Tyler. Shenkman, who has grown a full mustache and beard since his arrest, shook his head repeatedly as marshals led him out of the lockup area to stand in front of Judge David P. Gold.

For the second time in a month, defense attorney Hugh F. Keefe asked a judge to impose a gag order on witnesses in the cases, including Tyler. He said Tyler had appeared on local and national television shows and that further media attention would taint potential jurors. During Shenkman's recent appearance in New London Superior Court, Judge Susan B. Handy denied an identical gag request.

On Friday, Keefe said he had asked Gold about the gag order during a chambers conference before Shenkman's appearance. Gold told Keefe he would not consider the request without a written motion, but Keefe said Shenkman asked him to make an oral request. Gold repeated that he could not take up an oral motion of that nature.

The Hartford case was continued to Sept. 23. Keefe said Shenkman, who is being held in the infirmary at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution, is undergoing a medical evaluation and that he does not expect anything to happen in the case until the evaluation is complete. Senior Assistant State's Attorney Vicki Melchiorre is prosecuting.

Tyler said Shenkman kidnapped her at gunpoint from a Hartford parking garage July 7, took her to the home in South Windsor that he was supposed to turn over to her in their divorce and held her captive for about 13 hours. Tyler escaped safely, and Shenkman allegedly torched the house and begged police to shoot him before he was captured.

At the time, Shenkman was free on $575,000 bond on previous charges that he torched Tyler's Niantic beach home in March 2007 and violated court orders that prohibited him from contacting Tyler. As a result of the new charges, Handy revoked Shenkman's bail. His attorney appealed to the state Supreme Court, which upheld the bail revocation earlier this week.

Tyler, who is grappling with a barrage of legal and financial problems as a result of the acrimonious divorce, was not in court Friday. She said earlier this week that she and her family felt safe knowing that the state Supreme Court upheld the bail revocation.

Shenkman is due back in court in New London, where State's Attorney Michael L. Regan is prosecuting him in the Niantic arson case, Sept. 15.

k.florin@theday.com

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