Illegal Immigrant Accused of Murder Was Arrested 2 Months Ago Then Freed | News
ALBION, N.Y. -- The suspect in the stabbing death of a woman in a Walmart parking lot pleaded not guilty to murder Wednesday morning, just as details emerged regarding his criminal history.
Luis Rodriguez-Flamenco, 24, was accompanied by an attorney and waived his case to an Orleans County grand jury. He will remain in custody.
Flamenco is accused of stabbing to death 45-year-old Kathleen Byham Sunday night in a Walmart parking lot, according to Orleans County Sheriff Scott Hess. She was leaving the store in Albion at about 7 p.m. Sunday when three men approached her. One of the men stabbed her repeatedly.
This is not the first time Rodriquez-Flamenco has been in trouble with the law. He was arrested about two months ago on an assault charge, but he was released after giving police a fake name.
The district attorney, who declined to reveal the suspect's criminal history at a news conference, confirmed to 2 On Your Side that Flamenco was arrested in late August in Medina on assault charges, accused of punching a teenage girl in the face. His bail was initially set at $25,000 cash, but that was lowered to $2,000 by a different judge; Flamenco made the payment and left a free man.
This new information comes a day after 2 On Your Side reported on criticism of Governor Andrew Cuomo for suspending the state participation in a federal program, Secure Communities or S-Comm, that is designed to help local authorities send fingerprints to an immigration database run by the Department of Homeland Security.
A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo told 2 On Your Side last Wednesday night that localities can and already do run fingerprints through the FBI. He said S-Comm was unnecessary to use fingerprints to identify illegals.
"S-Comm is duplicative," the spokesperson said, adding that many law enforcement officials across the state praised the governor for opting out of the program that many feel goes too far.
2 On Your Side tried to contact the police chief for the Village of Medina to get more details on Flamenco's arrest two months ago; however, the chief went home early Wednesday. Many wonder if the department sent Flamenco's fingerprints to the FBI, and if so, when officers found out he was an illegal.
In a statement filed in Albion Town Court and obtained by 2 On Your Side, Rodriguez-Flamenco allegedly told investigators he accompanied two friends to the Walmart to buy a cartridge for an air pistol, to use to scare another man who had pulled a knife on him.
He goes on to describe accosting Byham, who police say had relatives in Buffalo and had been living with a man whom they did not identify for 14 years.
"I ran up to her and I snatched her car keys and I started stabbing her with a small bladed kitchen knife... I don't know why I did it," is what Rodriguez-Flamenco allegedly told them.
Police spent much of Monday combing a recently cut corn field across the road from the WalMart searching for clues. Several witnesses described seeing a trio of men running toward the field following the stabbing.
"They (the witnesses) were close enough where they could provide us with some real good suspect description," Smith remarked.
Jeremy Millis of Albion chased the 3 suspects with his truck out of the parking lot and eventually offered clues to police on their whereabouts.
In his statement, Rodriguez-Flamenco allegedly told investigators, "I took her keys and ran across the street...I threw the knife and keys down somewhere in the field."
On Monday morning blood still stained the asphalt where the stabbing occurred, beneath a light pole which holds several security cameras, video tape from which police are also using in their investigation.
Two other men -- Mexican nationals who police say are also in the country illegally -- were with Rodriguez-Flamenco but did not participate directly in the attack. They have been apprehended and turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol.
One of them, Marcos Gomez-Perez gave a statement to police indicating he had no clue as to what was about to transpire when he watched Rodriguez-Flamenco approach Byham. "I was shocked and ran away. I did not expect him to stab her," he allegedly told police
Numerous law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation and apprehension of the suspects. The Albion Police Department, New York State Police, Niagara County Sheriff's Department and Buffalo Police Department aided the Orleans County Sheriff's Office in the arrest.
The men were located in a home on East State Street in the village of Albion approximately two hours after the stabbing, according to Smith.