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Arizona prosecutor refuses to extradite SoHo hotel murder suspect to New York

In World
February 23, 2024

A Republican prosecutor in Arizona has refused to extradite a murder suspect to New York, claiming it is “safer” not to send him back because of the state’s supposed “treatment of violent criminals”.

Rachel Mitchell, attorney for Maricopa county – which includes most of the city of Phoenix – is holding the suspect, 26-year-old Raad Almansoori, in custody pending charges for stabbing two women.

The New York district attorney, Alvin Bragg, meanwhile wants to extradite him on a warrant for the murder of Denisse Oleas-Arancibia, 38, who was found beaten to death at New York’s SoHo 54 hotel earlier this month.

Almansoori is accused of having fled the city after the brutal crime and flying to Arizona – where he was arrested days later for stabbing a female employee in a McDonald’s bathroom in Phoenix, and another woman during a robbery attempt.

The prosecutorial battle over who charges him, and for what, has turned political. “Having observed the treatment of violent criminals in the New York area by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, I think it’s safer to keep him here and keep him in custody,” Mitchell said.

Bragg, a Democrat and Manhattan’s first Black district attorney, has often been targeted by Republicans who accuse him of making politicized prosecuting decisions.

A spokesperson for the Manhattan prosecutors office called it “deeply disturbing that DA Mitchell is playing political games in a murder investigation”, and noted that New York’s murder rate is less than half that of Phoenix.

“It is a slap in the face to them and to the victim in our case to refuse to allow us to seek justice and full accountability for a New Yorker’s death,” Emily Tuttle added.

Mitchell’s office later said that “all pending criminal matters in Arizona are to be resolved first before extradition to the outside state occurs”.

New York City police say Oleas-Arancibia, a part-time sex worker, was killed in a hotel room by blunt force trauma to the head. A broken clothes iron was found at the scene. Almansoori was later captured on surveillance video leaving the hotel in what police said were Oleas-Arancibia’s leggings.

The FBI and New York officials are now investigating whether Almansoori is connected to crimes in Florida and Texas, where he also previously lived and had been arrested. According to New York’s chief of detectives, Joseph Kenny, the suspect told officers after he was arrested in Arizona allegedly driving a stolen car: “You should Google SoHo 54 hotel.”

The Associated Press contributed reporting

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