DA Announces Appeal Of Reversed Conviction In Kuzdzal Case

Modified: December 9, 2016 10:15am

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Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty, Jr. announces he has sought permission to appeal an appellate court decision which reversed the murder conviction of 29-year-old Matthew Kuzdzal of Buffalo.

State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns today ordered Kuzdzal remanded to jail without bail during the appeal process.

In September 2014, an Erie County jury found Kuzdzal guilty of Murder in the Second Degree and Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child, after a two week trial before Justice Burns. 

The jury found that the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that on September 15, 2013, Kuzdzal fatally beat and sexually assaulted 5-year-old Eain Brooks, who was the child of Kuzdzal’s then girlfriend, Nora Brooks.

Kuzdzal was serving his 50 years to life sentence, but in November, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, reversed the conviction, ruling that the judge in the case should have inquired of two jurors allegedly overheard outside of the courtroom calling the defendant a “scumbag.”

“We believe Justice Burns properly handled the matter after determining the witness who claimed to overhear the jurors was not credible,” says acting DA Flaherty. “In any event, we respect the process and will abide by the court’s ruling with confidence that justice will prevail.”

Acting DA Flaherty says his office has asked one of the justices on the appellate court to grant permission to appeal the conviction reversal to the NYS Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

“I respectfully disagree with the majority,” says acting DA Flaherty who is referring to the 3-2 split at the Appellate Division. “I am confident that the Court of Appeals will agree with the views of the dissent.”

In the event that the appeal is denied, the DA’s Office intends to re-try Kuzdzal on both counts.

Colleen Curtin Gable, Chief of DA Flaherty’s Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Matthew B. Powers of DA Flaherty’s Appeals Bureau are prosecuting the case.