Alleged strangler released by immigration authorities six weeks before alleged incident

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HUDSON, N.Y. -- Four days after he was arraigned for murdering a 73-year-old woman last November, questions remain about why Shaiqul Islam was released by federal immigration authorities only six weeks before the alleged incident occurred.

Islam, who was arraigned on Tuesday in Columbia County Court, has been charged with the Nov. 20 slaying of 73-year-old Lois Decker of Hillsdale, a former lunch lady at a local school who has been described by neighbors as sweet and affable.

Decker was strangled to death in her own home.

Islam, who lives in Hudson, is a Level 2 sex offender who served two years in prison after he was convicted in 2008 of promoting a sexual performance of a child, a felony, for taking lewd photographs of a 12-year-old girl. He is not an American citizen but has lived in Columbia County since he was 8 years old, according to law enforcement officials.

According to Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka, a federal immigration judge ordered Islam be deported to his native Bangladesh in December 2008. But Islam never was.

Islam's attorney, Michael C. Howard, said that after his client served his sentence on the pornography charges he was placed in a federal immigration center for about a year, before being released sometime in October.

"It's my understanding that federal authorities released him because he wasn't deemed a risk," said Howard.

The federal Immigration and Nationality Act states that after a deportation order is issued, as it was in Islam's case, "the person concerned must be removed within 90 days unless otherwise specified."

If the person is not deported during that 90-day time frame, the statute authorizes further detention or supervised release after an administrative review, which is apparently what happened in this case.

In the Islam case, Czajka said a 2001 Supreme Court case has been cited as the reason why immigration detainees are allowed to be released from federal custody.

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"I don't believe it should apply for violent offenders," said Czajka.

In the Supreme Court decision, if the person's removal is "no longer reasonably foreseeable," the person can't be held under the INA.

A call to Immigration and Customs Enforcement was not immediately returned.

On Tuesday, Islam was arraigned on a single count of second-degree murder, the highest murder charge in New York state, as well as three counts of third-degree criminal possession of stolen property for allegedly stealing two vehicles and property belonging to Decker. He pleaded not guilty to all charges, said Howard.

The trial has been scheduled for July 16. According to Czajka, it should take a week to 10 days.

Islam was allegedly at Decker's house looking to rent a downstairs apartment. The "for rent" sign was still in the yard on the day Columbia County Sheriff's Officers discovered Decker's body.

They were led there after investigating a hit-and-run accident in a nearby town involving Decker's car. Investigators said that Islam stole the car after killing Decker and then stole a truck after the accident. He was arrested in Hudson that night by a New York State trooper who allegedly spotted him driving around Hudson in the stolen truck.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office has collected evidence from Decker's home, as well as the two vehicles, said Czajka. They have recovered "scientific evidence" that they plan to use at trial, he said.

According to Czajka, the investigation will continue right up to the time of trial.

Howard said he has sought the assistance of a psychologist in regard to the case.


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