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Judge grants hearing on new evidence for convicted killer

State Supreme Court Justice Francis A. Affronti has granted a hearing for a convicted killer to present new evidence that someone else actually 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. Torres was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

On Tuesday, Affronti granted a motion filed by Torres’ lawyer, David Abbatoy, asking for a hearing to present new evidence, including testimony from 32-year-old Angel Carrasquillo, that he is the man who really killed Cruz.

“I shot Miguel Cruz multiple times using a .38-caliber revolver killing him,” Carrasquillo said in a statement attached to Abbatoy’s motion.

Carrasquillo, whose nickname is “Massacre,” is serving a life sentence for another killing.

At the hearing scheduled for April 4, Abbatoy also plans to call two corroborating witnesses – Steven Rivera and Elliot Velez – who claim they saw Carrasquillo running away from the crime scene with a gun in his hand.

David Abbatoy

David Abbatoy

In court papers filed Monday, Geoffrey Kaeuper, deputy chief of appeals for the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, conceded to a hearing for Torres.

“The People agree that defendant presents a minimal factual issue on newly discovered evidence,” Kaeuper said in the response to Abbatoy’s motion.

“It is difficult to imagine how he could prevail, but his allegations appear to entitle him to that opportunity,” Kaeuper wrote.

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.

Outside court Tuesday, after Affronti announced his decision to grant the hearing, Torres’ nephew, Emilio Vega, said the family felt “big relief.”

Angel Carrasquillo

Angel Carrasquillo

“We’ve maintained his innocence for 15 years and we just want the right thing to be done,” Vega said.

If he has the chance, Vega said, he would like to thank Carrasquillo for coming forward.

“I was surprised and shocked that someone actually did the right thing in this case because it’s been years where we’ve been receiving blockage from everyone,” Vega said.

Torres is expected to be moved from Attica Correctional Facility to the Monroe County Jail in about a week to make it more convenient for Abbatoy to work with him to prepare for the hearing.

After the hearing, Affronti can decide to free Torres, grant a new trial, or find that the new evidence is insufficient and send him back to prison to continue his sentence his sentence.