Modified: January 26, 2016 8:36am
First Assistant Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty, Jr. announces that 28 year-old Michael Sanchez pleaded guilty, as charged, on the morning of jury selection before Erie County Court Judge Sheila A. DiTullio to Rape in the First Degree, two counts of Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree and Robbery in the Third Degree. These are the highest charges for which Sanchez could have been convicted had he gone to trial. In other words, he was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
On February 22, 2015 at approximately 4:45 a.m., Sanchez entered the 711 store at Niagara and Hertel in Buffalo and robbed the 20 year-old store clerk of cash and cigarettes. Fearing that Sanchez had a gun, the clerk handed over her personal cash ($45) and the contents of the register. The robbery was captured on the store’s surveillance video.
After the robbery, Sanchez demanded, “You have to come with me.” The clerk managed to push the store’s panic button before Sanchez grabbed her and pulled her into a back office where he forcibly raped and sodomized her. Sanchez then ordered his victim to “wash up” and to give him the store’s surveillance tapes. As Sanchez and his victim walked toward the front of the store, a Buffalo news deliveryman entered just as Sanchez was making his escape. The victim yelled for the deliveryman to lock the door while she called 911.
Buffalo Police officers arrived within a few minutes and observed Sanchez less than a block from the store. Officers gave chase and tackled Sanchez in a snowbank and recovered the proceeds of the robbery (cash and cigarettes). Sanchez was promptly returned to the 711 where he was positively identified by the store clerk and the Buffalo News deliveryman.
The victim was transported to Women and Children’s Hospital where a rape kit was collected by a sexual assault nurse examiner. Forensic DNA analysis proved that Sanchez was the source of the semen in the victim’s rape kit.
Sanchez is remanded pending sentencing on January 13, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. before Judge DiTullio. The maximum prison sentence is 25 years on each of the first three counts, followed by 25 years post-release supervision.
Special credit is given to Buffalo Police Officers Chrishopher Schafer, Marquest Castillo, Lt. Mary Hanley and CPS Forensic Biologist H. Michelle Lillie. The case was successfully prosecuted by Bureau Chief Rosanne E. Johnson and Assistant District Attorney Liam A. Dwyer of the Erie County District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau.