Three men accused of binding a homeowner and his wife with duct tape and brandishing a revolver during a Buffalo home invasion in December were arraigned today on first-degree robbery and burglary charges.
Upstairs tenants called police after spotting three men enter the 19th Street home.
The police surrounded the house and apprehended the suspects, who hid upstairs, according to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.
Authorities do not believe the three picked the house at random. However, the victims did not know the suspects.
“Home invasion, short of murder, I can’t think of a worst crime or allegation,” State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller said during the hearing.
Charged were Luis Ayala-Pizarro, 19; Carlos Morales-Alvarez, 21; and Kelvin Viera-Morales, 23, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Two of the three do not have a local address, said Assistant District Attorney John Feroleto.
Boller cited the defendants ties to Puerto Rico and New York City when setting their bails.
“It’s easy to get on a plane and take off,” Boller said.
When a defense lawyer questioned the $100,000 cash bail or $200,000 bond set for Viera-Morales – the highest of the three amounts – Boller said his client is “very fortunate he has any bail.”
Feroleto said Viera-Morales has two previous arrests in 2009 in Puerto Rico, although the disposition of the cases was not clear at the arraignment.
Ayala-Pizarro, a native of Puerto Rico, has a full-time job at a home improvement store, is married and has two children, according to defense attorney Emily Trott. His $50,000 bail was the lowest amount among the three.
Defense lawyer Daniel J. DuBois said he has been in almost-daily contact with the parents of his client, Morales-Alvarez, who has no previous arrests.
If convicted, the defendants face between five years and 25 years in prison, Feroleto said in court.
District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III credited Buffalo olice Lt. Michael DeLong and officers Stephen Schultz, Nicholas Parisi, Christopher Mordino and Brian Connors for their work on the case.