Republican prosecutor in Arizona takes swipe at New York district attorney prosecuting Trump

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PHOENIX (AP) — The Republican prosecutor of Arizona's most populous county took a thinly veiled swipe at a Democratic counterpart in the East on Wednesday, saying she would not agree to extradition of a suspect in the death of a woman who was fatally bludgeoned in a New York City hotel room, and that he should be tried first in Arizona for stabbing two women here.

Raad Almansoori, 26, is being held without bond while Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell's office decides how to charge him in connection with the stabbing of two women in the county in recent days, Mitchell said at a news conference. Those two women survived.

“Having observed the treatment of violent criminals in the New York area by Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg, I think it’s safer to keep him here and keep him in custody," said Mitchell, referring to the prosecutor who brought the high-profile case against former President Donald Trump alleging that hush money was paid during his 2016 campaign to cover up an affair.

Both Mitchell and Bragg are elected officials.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office responded swiftly.

"It is deeply disturbing that D.A. Mitchell is playing political games in a murder investigation,” Manhattan D.A. spokesperson Emily Tuttle said in a statement. “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.”

The statement said the office is “serious about New Yorkers' safety,” adding that homicides are down 24% since Bragg took office. Tuttle said New York's homicide rate is less than half that of Phoenix's.

Later Wednesday, Mitchell's office said that under Arizona law “all pending criminal matters in Arizona are to be resolved first before extradition to the outside state occurs.”

Almansoori was arrested on Sunday in the stabbing attack earlier that day of a female employee in a bathroom at a McDonald’s restaurant in the Phoenix suburb of Surprise. He had also been sought in the stabbing of another woman during a robbery attempt in the Phoenix area a day earlier. Authorities say he was driving a stolen car at the time of his arrest.

Almansoori was formally charged with two counts each of attempted murder, aggravated assault and attempted sexual assault and one count of theft of means of transportation.

The public defender assigned to Almansoori's case did not respond Wednesday afternoon to an emailed request for comment.

Mitchell is known nationally as the sex crimes prosecutor who questioned both Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford during the 2018 hearings for Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. At the time, Mitchell wrote a memo casting doubts on the strength of Ford's allegations that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were in high school.

Bragg, a Democrat and Manhattan’s first Black district attorney, has faced a torrent of criticism from Republicans over his prosecutorial decisions.

Some critics have attacked him and distorted his record for bringing charges against Trump. He has also faced backlash for his office’s decision not to prosecute certain low-level offenses. Laws passed in New York in 2019, the year before Bragg took office, also restrict the use of bail for misdemeanors and some nonviolent felonies. Neither the bail laws nor Bragg’s internal policy have any bearing on the treatment of suspects charged with murder.

New York City police officials said Tuesday that they wanted to extradite Almansoori in the Feb. 8 killing of Denisse Oleas-Arancibia, 38, in a hotel in lower Manhattan. The DA’s office said charges in New York aren’t officially filed until someone is extradited and appears in court.

Police officials in Maricopa County said Almansoori had family in the area and had lived there in the past.

Oleas-Arancibia was found by staff on the floor of the hotel room. Her death was determined to have been caused by blunt force trauma to the head, and a broken clothes iron was found at the scene, police said.

In coordination with the FBI, New York officials are looking to see if Almansoori could have any connection to crimes committed in Florida and Texas, where he also previously lived and has been arrested.


Associated Press writers Jake Offenhartz and Maysoon Khan in New York contributed to this report.