msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/23/2010 12:16:06 PM ET 2010-09-23T16:16:06

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said Thursday that he regrets telling a group of college students he would "slowly torture" three suspects accused of robbing and killing a pizza delivery driver.

The Boston Globe reported that Menino was talking to Emerson College students last week when an audience member asked about a death penalty punishment for the suspects in the Sept. 2 stabbing death of 58-year-old Richel Nova. Nova's daughters worked in Menino's City Hall office, the report said.

On an audio recording made by a student, the Democratic mayor first explained why he thought the death penalty was unfair, The Globe report said. But then he veered off the course of political correctness.

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"If I saw these guys in a dark alley, I'd like to have a fight with them," the report quoted the mayor as saying at the Sept. 15 appearance.

"I'd do some things that would be worse than the death penalty," he continued, "because it wouldn't happen in a second. I would slowly torture them."

The three friends accused of killing Nova have pleaded not guilty to the crime, The Globe said. A judge has ordered Yamiley Mathurin, 17, Alexander Gallett, 18, and Michel St. Jean, 20, jailed without bail.

Prosecutors say the trio lured Nova to an abandoned house, where they robbed and stabbed him before stealing his car, New England Cable News reported. A friend of Nova's told the news channel that Nova came to Boston from the Dominican Republic in 1985, and that he worked two jobs to support his three children.

'I shouldn't have said it'
Boston'sWBZ-AM interviewed MeninoThursday morning, and asked if he regretted the statements.

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"Oh, no question about it," he said. "I'm human, I shouldn't have said it." 

As for the torture comments, Menino said he didn't mean what he said, but said the incident cuts "cuts right to the core of who I am" and acknowledged that his "emotions got away with me."

"Maybe I shouldn't have said what I said," Menino acknowledged, but he said he was expressing personal views. He said he knew Nova's daughters "very well" from their time working at City Hall.

The Globe identified the women as 20-year-old twins Marlene and Michelle Romero, and reported that Menino has spoken often of the crime, even eulogizing Nova as a hardworking immigrant. The Globe noted that the mayor's office played a role in establishing an educational fund for the twins at a bank.

"I'm not a person who has ever been in favor of the death penalty," he said. "But this killing, just grabbed me the wrong way and I was just so angry about it."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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