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Convicted killer claims new evidence shows he is innocent

A man in prison for a 2001 murder claims he should be freed because of new evidence that someone else committed the crime.

Jose Torres

Jose Torres

Jose Torres, 49, was convicted of second-degree murder in 2002 for the July 4, 2001, fatal shooting of Miguel Cruz on Hollister Street.

Now he’s in Attica Correctional Facility doing a 25-years-to-life sentence for the Cruz homicide. Also in Attica is Angel Carrasquillo, 32, the man Torres claims actually killed Cruz.

Carrasquillo, sentenced to life in prison for another killing, gave a written statement to lawyer Matthew Hagen admitting that he in fact killed Cruz.

“I shot Miguel Cruz multiple times using a .38-caliber revolver killing him,” Carrasquillo said in a signed affidavit.

“Jose Torres did not murder Miguel Cruz or have anything to do with the events that happened that night,” Carrasquillo said in the statement to Hagen.

Carrasquillo, nicknamed “Massacre,” also confessed in September 2015 to the killing in an on-camera interview with WROC-TV.

Matt Hagen

Matt Hagen

Hagen also obtained affidavits from two corroborating witnesses – Steven Rivera and Elliot Velez.

“I found two eyewitnesses who saw Mr. Carrasquillo running away from the scene with the revolver in his hand that night as he took off his mask,” Hagen said.

He said one witness is a cousin of Carrasquillo and the other is a longtime friend of his. So the chances of misidentifying him are slim.

Torres’ lawyer, David Abbatoy has filed a motion asking state Supreme Court Justice Francis A. Affronti, the original trial judge, to free Torres, or grant a new trial. Lawyers are scheduled to be in Affronti’s courtroom Tuesday.

David Abbatoy

David Abbatoy

“We’re grateful to have this opportunity to put these facts in front of a court because this is something Mr. Torres has been pressing, essentially, since his arrest. I think the people involved are going to take a hard look at this. It deserves to be looked at closely,” Abbatoy said.

Hagen has been investigating the case since July 2014 when he was contacted by Torres’ family. Interviews with several people connected to the case led him to Carrasquillo and the other witnesses. Hagen said he provided all the information he uncovered to the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office.

“We’ve been investigating these allegations. I’ll be filing a response, probably on Monday,” said Geoffrey Kaeuper, deputy chief of appeals for the DA’s office.

“At this point the defense hasn’t given us their entire motion. They’re sought a protective order to keep one affidavit hidden from us. So we’re sort of in a difficult position responding to a motion that we don’t have a complete copy of,” Kaeuper said.

District Attorney Sandra Doorley’s office has acknowledged requests for a comment on the case, but has not granted an interview and has not provided any statement.

According to Abbatoy’s court filing, investigators from Doorley’s office had Carrasquillo brought to their office for an interview that Hagen attended.

Angel Carrasquillo

Angel Carrasquillo

“Carrasquillo told the investigators that he killed Cruz because Cruz had robbed him of drugs and money,” Hagen said in court documents.

Hagen said Torres and Carrasquillo did not know each other until after Carrasquillo gave Hagen the statement saying he killed Cruz.

The case against Torres includes a signed confession. Hagen said Torres claimed he was tricked into signing it, thinking he was confessing to a burglary.

Abbatoy’s motion also claims the prosecutor in 2001 failed to disclose to the defense that a witness, James Vernooy, was “promised favorable treatment in exchange for his testimony.”