DA: “No credible evidence” linking Richard Matt to murder of Deborah Meindl

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Erie County District Attorney’s Office says there is no credible evidence linking Richard Matt to the murder of Deborah Meindl.

Matt is known for his 2015 escape from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, alongside David Sweat.

Weeks after his escape, Matt was shot dead by law enforcement officers. But Sweat was later captured and taken back into custody.

MORE | David Sweat moved to fourth different prison since 2015 escape

Before their escape, Sweat and Matt were behind bars for murder, and the case of Matt was connected to western New York.

Matt was an Erie County native. More than two decades ago, he was convicted of killing and dismembering North Tonawanda businessman William Rickerson.

Eventually, he ended up spending time in a Mexican prison in relation to a separate homicide.

MORE | Dead prison escapee Richard Matt had WNY ties

Now, the Erie County District Attorney’s office says some attorneys are trying to connect Matt to another homicide — that of Deborah Meindl.

District Attorney John Flynn dismissed these assertions in a new statement released Wednesday morning.

“There is no credible evidence to link Richard Matt to the murder of Deborah Meindl. There is also no evidence that Deborah Meindl had a romantic relationship with Detective David Bentley,” Flynn says. “These two narratives asserted by defense counsel representing Brian Scott Lorenzo and James Pugh are false.”

Read the rest of Flynn’s statement below:

“Any assertion that the two prosecutors initially assigned to investigate this matter were removed from the case or reassigned because I did not agree with their findings is not true. I, along with my entire senior leadership team, several of my senior bureau chiefs and most experienced trial attorneys, disagreed with their conclusions due to a lack of any credible evidence. Both attorneys did not accept my decision with the professionalism expected of career prosecutors. Ultimately, I made the decision to remove both prosecutors from the case.   

While I cannot comment further on personnel matters, I can confirm that both prosecutors were later reassigned after I made the decision to remove them from the case. One prosecutor was relieved of his Bureau Chief position. He continues to work as an Assistant District Attorney in the Appeals Bureau. The other prosecutor was not demoted, but reassigned from the Appeals Bureau to the office’s Felony Trials Bureau.

It is incumbent on defense counsel to submit new, credible evidence that establishes that these defendants did not commit this murder in order to vacate their conviction or re-open the criminal case. Without any new, credible evidence, I will continue to oppose this motion.

I anticipate that all issues raised in this matter will be litigated in the course of the proceedings that will include submissions by both parties and in arguments before the Court. Our office cannot comment further on this matter as the 440 motion is pending.”

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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