Erie County's top prosecutor is appealing an appellate court decision that reversed the murder conviction of a man found guilty of killing his then-girlfriend's 5-year-old son.
Matthew Kuzdzal has been remanded to jail without bail. The 29-year-old Buffalo man was convicted of murder in September 2014 for fatally beating and sexually assaulting Eain Brooks a year earlier.
Kuzdzal was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison. But last month, an appeals court, in a 3-2 split decision, ruled the judge in the case failed to act appropriately after two jurors were allegedly overheard calling the defendant a "scumbag."
Acting District Attorney Michael Flaherty says State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns handled the matter properly in determining the witness who claimed to overhear those jurors was not credible.
"It's our opinion that Justice Burns handled that correctly and we are going to ask the Court of Appeals to rule on the method in which he conducted himself in that case," Flaherty told WBFO.
Flaherty points out two of the five appellate judges agreed with Burns' ruling and all believed the verdict was justified.
"The judge brought the woman in and, under oath, questioned her and determined that she was not credible because her sense of timing was off and her observations of the jurors in the jury box differed from his observations," Flaherty explained.
He says the appeal process could take several months. If the appeal is denied, Flaherty says his office will re-try Kuzdzal.