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Tarsia Killer Manhunt Continues, Hits Close to Home

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By Jason Weinstein.
The manhunt continues for David Sweat who, along with Kevin Nabinger, was sent to prison for life for the death of Broome County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Tarsia in July of 2002.

Sweat and another man escaped from a maximum-security prison late Friday night or Saturday morning. Now Tarsia's family and colleagues are left to wait for a capture while reliving the tragedy.

"We couldn't believe that it happened but like we said before, nothing is impossible. Things can happen," said Phillip Tarsia.

Kevin Tarsia's father Phillip has been in constant touch with the Broome County Sheriff's office, getting updates on the manhunt since the escape of one of his son's killer's David Sweat, and another convicted murderer, Richard Matt.

"I think the fear here is who are they going to kill next. What will it take to capture them?" said Broome County Sheriff David Harder (R).

"They said they couldn't give them the death penalty. That's what they told us so they gave them life without parole. We had to go along with it. They're the ones who made the decision. We follow them but we weren't happy with it," said Phillip Tarsia.

"We assured the family when we were prosecuting the case that they were never going to walk free again. It turns out that that's not true," said Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen (D).

Both Sweat and Kevin Nabinger pleaded guilty to first degree murder, agreeing to life in prison to avoid the death penalty. Mollen says with the State Court of Appeals striking down the death penalty statute in 2004, that sentence turned out to be the harshest one possible.

A command post has been set up at the Broome County Sheriff's Office. The State Police are running the post with the cooperation of the Sheriff's Office, FBI, US Marshalls, and the State's Department of Corrections.

"We took out the old file and we went through everybody connected to Sweat. His parents, other family members, his friends, anybody we could think of we've been in contact with," said Harder.

Each July 4th on the anniversary of Tarsia's death his Family returns to the park where Tarsia was killed to remember his life. Now the hope is that his escaped killer will be back behind bars by this year's remembrance.

"He was protecting the people, the community. That's what he did. Otherwise he wouldn't have even bothered with the park. He could have driven right by," said Phillip Tarsia. "He wanted to keep it safe."

****In Broome County, Jason Weinstein, FOX 40 HD News****