Arizona prosecutor says will not extradite suspect in New York hotel murder

By Thomson Reuters Feb 21, 2024 | 5:18 PM

(Reuters) – An Arizona prosecutor said on Wednesday she will decline an extradition request from New York for a man wanted for the murder of a woman in a hotel room because she did not trust her Manhattan counterpart to keep the man in custody.

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, a Republican, said at a press conference she had instructed her staff not to cooperate with any request by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, to extradite Raad Noan Almansoori. The announcement drew criticism from Bragg’s office that Mitchell was playing “political games” in a murder case.

Almansoori is wanted for the murder of Denisse Oleas-Arancibia, 38, in a room at the SoHo 54 Hotel in Manhattan earlier in February. She was strangled and bludgeoned in her head, according to an autopsy report.

He was arrested by police in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Feb. 18 after an 18-year-old woman survived being stabbed multiple times in the bathroom of a McDonald’s restaurant in Surprise, Arizona.

He made statements to Arizona investigators linking himself to the McDonald’s attack, another non-fatal stabbing the day before in Phoenix, Arizona, and the murder at the SoHo 54 Hotel, police said.

Almansoori remains in jail, having been denied release on bail at an initial court appearance, and it was unclear whether he had a lawyer.

In explaining her decision not to extradite Almansoori to New York, Mitchell, the county’s chief prosecutor, noted that the assaults he is accused of in Arizona carry mandatory prison sentences, suggesting without evidence he might be released from custody in New York.

“Having observed the treatment of violent criminals in the New York area by the Manhattan D.A. there, Alvin Bragg, 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 or county or anywhere in the United States,” she told reporters.

She did not elaborate, but Bragg, like other Democratic law-enforcement officials, has often been criticized by Republican politicians for being too lenient on criminals, even where such allegations are undercut by crime statistics.

Bragg’s office shared data showing the murder rate in Phoenix, the largest city in Maricopa County, is more than twice that of New York City, which has long had a relatively low ranking among American cities for violent crime.

“It is deeply disturbing that D.A. Mitchell is playing political games in a murder investigation,” Emily Tuttle, a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney, said in a statement. She said Mitchell’s decision was a “slap in the face” to New York law enforcement and “to the victim in our case to refuse to allow us to seek justice and full accountability for a New Yorker’s death.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Sonali Paul)