Arizona won’t send murder suspect back to New York, citing Alvin Bragg’s ‘treatment of violent criminals’

An Arizona prosecutor is refusing to extradite a man accused of murdering a woman in a hotel in New York, blaming Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for his “treatment of violent criminals.”

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said in a news conference on Wednesday that her team would not be coordinating with Bragg’s to send Raad Almansoori, 26, to New York to face charges in the murder of Denisse Oleas-Arancibia, 38.

Police officials say Almansoori and Oleas-Arancibia got into a dispute over how long he could stay in the room at Soho 54 Hotel, at which point Almansoori hit the woman in the head with an iron. New York police officials said Wednesday that he fled to Scottsdale, Arizona.

Oleas-Arancibia’s body was discovered by hotel staff on Feb. 8, but police did not have many leads until Feb. 18, when Almansoori was arrested in Scottsdale after being accused of stabbing a McDonald’s employee, per the New York Times. Almansoori has remained in Maricopa County custody since his arrest.

“Having observed the treatment of violent criminals in the New York area by the Manhattan D.A. there, Alvin Bragg,” Mitchell told reporters on Wednesday, “I think it’s safer to keep him here and keep him in custody so that he cannot be out doing this to individuals either in our state, county, or anywhere in the United States.”

Phoenix prosecutor Rachel Mitchell returns to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing after a break on Sept. 27, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Mitchell, the Republican prosecutor of Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous county, took a thinly veiled swipe at a Democratic counterpart on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, saying it would be more secure to hold a man accused of stabbing two women in Arizona than to extradite him to New York City, where he is wanted in connection with the fatal bludgeoning of a woman in a hotel room. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Mitchell, like many Republican officials in New York and across the nation, has slammed Bragg in recent months for what they believe is a lack of accountability from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Bragg has been criticized for not prosecuting people aggressively enough.

However, Bragg has not indicated in this instance that he would not seek to keep Almansoori behind bars. Bragg spokeswoman Emily Tuttle called Mitchell’s comments offensive in a statement on Wednesday.

“It is deeply disturbing that D.A. Mitchell is playing political games in a murder investigation,” Tuttle said. “New York’s murder rate is less than half that of Phoenix, Ariz., because of the hard work of the N.Y.P.D. and all of our law enforcement partners.

“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,” Tuttle added.

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The refusal to extradite a suspect by Mitchell, who has held her position since April 2022, is a breach of typical criminal justice procedures. Republicans have been particularly adversarial to Bragg and New York prosecutors since the state opened cases into former President Donald Trump, the party’s front-runner in the 2024 presidential election.

Bragg’s office criminally charged Trump over hush-money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election. The trial is set to begin on March 25. Trump also faces criminal cases in Florida, Georgia, and Washington, D.C., with all four trials amounting to 91 felony charges.

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