Suffolk County Justice Thomas Stark, who presided over several high-profile cases and served as a court administrator, died on April 27 at age 89.
The cause was complications from cancer surgery, according to a obituary provided by his family.
Stark graduated from Harvard Law School in 1949 after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After graduation, he went into private practice in Riverhead.
His judicial career began in 1963 when he was appointed a Suffolk County Court judge. Six years later, Stark was elected to the Suffolk County Supreme Court and sat on that bench until he retired in 1998.
From 1978 to 1992, Stark was the supervising judge for the Superior Criminal Courts. He also sat on the Appellate Term for the Ninth and Tenth Judicial Districts from 1985 to 1998, and served as vice chairman of the Office of Court Administration’s Criminal Jury Instructions committee from 1972 to 1992.
Among the cases Stark handled was the trial of Ronald DeFeo Jr., who was convicted of murdering his parents and siblings in the so-called “Amityville Horror” killings. The crime caught widespread attention and inspired books and movies. Stark sentenced DeFeo to six consecutive 25-year to life sentences.
Stark is survived by his wife, Jane Crabtree Stark, his daughters, Elizabeth Stark Dugan and Ellen Gaynor Stark, his brother William and two grandchildren.