After 17 years, the monster walks free
Joel Steinberg enters halfway house
Convicted child-killer Joel Steinberg, spurned by his new neighbors and chased by a media horde, stumbled to freedom Wednesday, July 7, 2004, after nearly 17 years in jail for the beating death of his 6-year-old adopted daughter.
Steinberg, now 63, tripped and fell on the stairs leading to his new home as arrived in Manhattan for the first time since he was shipped upstate to serve his time in March 1989.
The disbarred attorney, who was released from an upstate facility earlier Wednesday, seemed shaken by the attention.
He offered no comment to reporters as he careened up the steps and into a building run by an inmates' rights group. Residents near the Riverside Drive address were not eager to see the man often described as a monster in their neighborhood.
“I don't want anything to do with him,” said Giselle Palo, 35, a fifth grade teacher. “When people in this neighborhood find out he's here, he's going to have a hard time.”
Picketers from a neighborhood group appeared shortly after Steinberg's return to the city. One waved a sign reading, “Get out criminal from our neighborhood.”
Steinberg spent the last 13 years at the Southport Correctional Facility outside Elmira. He had served two-thirds of the maximum 25-year manslaughter sentence and the state was required to release him. He has continued to deny responsibility for the girl's death.
Steinberg left the upstate prison with $104 in earnings from his inmate account, wearing state-issued denim jeans, a white shirt and sneakers.
Defense attorney Darnay Hoffmann picked him up in a white stretch limousine in Pine City, 179 miles west of New York City. A half-dozen cars with reporters followed. One had briefly blocked the limousine as photographers took pictures of it. Steinberg was moved to a different car shortly before arriving at the Manhattan residence.
Lisa Steinberg died in November 1987, three days after a vicious beating in the Greenwich Village apartment where she lived with Steinberg and his former lover, Hedda Nussbaum.
According to Nussbaum's testimony, Steinberg struck Lisa for staring at him, then ignored her injuries and smoked cocaine.
Nussbaum, now 59, quit her job at My Sister's Place, a domestic violence center in White Plains, on Friday, Executive Director Julie Domonkos said Wednesday.
She had promised to flee New York rather than face Steinberg. The Journal News reported that Nussbaum's small white house in Carmel was empty on Tuesday.
Hoffmann has said he offered Steinberg a $250-a-week job with a local cable television show.
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