BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - A candidate for Broome County District Attorney is slamming the current DA's Office for helping to release the Binghamton man who allegedly committed murder and arson over the weekend.
Republican Paul Battisti held a news conference this afternoon at his law office in Binghamton.
Battisti released court documents showing that DA Steve Cornwell's office petitioned the judge to release 45 year-old Wilfredo Pica-Torres from the Broome County Jail last week.
Pica-Torres was being held on burglary and criminal mischief charges related to two separate incidents in Binghamton in December.
He was also facing a grand larceny charge out of Endicott from September that involved the same female victim from the last Saturday's alleged attack on Walnut Street in Binghamton.
Battisti says the court released Pica-Torres on Friday.
The following day, police say Pica-Torres attacked and killed 61 year-old Victor Banayan and severely beat the unidentified female victim before setting Banayan home on fire.
Battisti says Pica-Torres has an extensive rap sheet including 6 felonies, 2 of them violent, and had just been released from state prison last June.
Battisti says he should never have been released from jail. "Even though the New York State Department of Correction and Community Services apparently did not see Mr. Pica-Torres as a viable parole candidate, and instead held him in prison for as long as possible, the Broome County District Attorney's Office advocated for his release, releasing him back into the community as opposed to fighting to send him back to prison."
Battisti leveled much of his criticism against his likely Republican primary opponent, Chief Assistant District Attorney Mike Korchak, who Battisti says supervises the prosecutor who requested Pica-Torres's release.
DA Steve Cornwell, who is not running for re-election this Fall, released a statement condemning Battisti's criticism, saying:
Shame on Paul Battisti for exploiting the death of a victim for political advantage.
Mr. Battisti is hiding behind the fact that we are prohibited by law from discussing a pending case.
His misleading information is nothing more than an unethical political stunt intended to fool voters. We aggressively prosecute cases based on the facts and the law, not on speculation.