Arizona Will Not Extradite NYC Hotel Murder Suspect, Calling Bragg Untrustworthy

On Feb. 8, a woman was found dead in a Manhattan hotel room, bludgeoned to death with an iron. This week, the police announced that a 26-year-old man suspected of committing the crime had been arrested in Arizona, where he was accused of stabbing another woman a few days after the homicide in New York.

In the normal course of events, the suspect would be sent back to New York to face charges — a routine extradition. But on Wednesday, an Arizona prosecutor refused, saying she did not believe Alvin L. Bragg, Manhattan’s district attorney, could be trusted to keep him behind bars.

Rachel Mitchell, the Maricopa County attorney, said at a news conference on Wednesday that her team would not work with Mr. Bragg, whose office is seeking to charge the man, Raad Almansoori, in the killing of 38-year-old Denisse Oleas-Arancibia.

“Having observed the treatment of violent criminals in the New York area by the Manhattan D.A. there, Alvin Bragg,” Ms. Mitchell told reporters. “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.”

With that statement, which a spokeswoman later tried to temper, a local New York City story was swept up into a national debate over politics and crime, a cyclone fanned by Mr. Bragg’s prosecution of former President Donald J. Trump on charges that he orchestrated the cover-up of a hush-money payment to a porn star in an attempt to conceal her story of an affair before the 2016 election.

Both prosecutors have national profiles: Ms. Mitchell, a Republican, was tapped in 2018 to play a key role in the Senate confirmation hearings of one of Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominees. Mr. Bragg, a Democrat, has been a lightning rod for complaints by Mr. Trump and his supporters that he is being persecuted as he seeks another term in the White House.

Emily Tuttle, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bragg, called Ms. Mitchell’s statement a grave insult.

“It is deeply disturbing that D.A. Mitchell is playing political games in a murder investigation,” Ms. Tuttle said in a statement. She also noted that killings and shootings had dropped since Mr. Bragg took office.

“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,” Ms. Tuttle said. “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.”

Since the beginning of his term in 2022, Mr. Bragg has drawn criticism for his handling of crime in the nation’s most populous city. Police unions and Republican officials have complained that too many dangerous people are being released on bail before trial, and that Mr. Bragg has failed to prosecute them as aggressively as he might. But there was no indication that Mr. Bragg’s office would not seek to keep the hotel-killing suspect behind bars.

After workers on Feb. 8 discovered the body of Ms. Oleas-Arancibia in a room at the SoHo 54 hotel, Mr. Almansoori flew to Arizona, New York police officials said on Wednesday. He was arrested there after stabbing a McDonald’s restaurant employee on Feb. 18. Mr. Almansoori has been in custody in Maricopa County since.

In an email after the Wednesday news conference, a spokeswoman said Mr. Almansoori was not being extradited because he also faced serious charges related to the stabbing in Arizona.

The spokeswoman said Arizona law required the cases there to be completed before extradition.

After Mr. Trump was indicted in Manhattan in the hush-money case last March, prominent Republicans including Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, held a hearing that they said would highlight crime in New York City. They painted Mr. Bragg as a hypocrite who was focused on a political crusade rather than bad behavior in his backyard.

Ms. Mitchell is a longtime local lawyer who became the county’s top prosecutor in a 2022 special election and is currently running for a second term.

“Rachel Mitchell is a lifelong conservative and a veteran prosecutor with a record of enforcing the rule of law, locking up criminals and keeping our community safe,” according to her website.

Mr. Mitchell gained national attention for her persistent and probing questioning of Christine Blasey Ford on behalf of fellow Republicans during the 2018 confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Ms. Ford had accused Mr. Kavanaugh — a Trump nominee — of sexually assaulting her decades before, and the move to use Ms. Mitchell for questioning was seen by some as a way to insulate Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee, all men, from attacking Ms. Ford.

Before that hearing, Ms. Mitchell had built a reputation by avidly pursuing cases like sexual assault and child molestation, while also lobbying for tougher laws governing such crimes.

Her comments Wednesday about Mr. Bragg, seen by many in her party as a nemesis of the president, may carry special weight in her state. Arizona and its Republican Party were torn by battles over false claims that the election there was thrown to Joseph R. Biden Jr. by fraud.

Jesse McKinley contributed reporting.

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