Two men convicted of 1993 murder in Tonawanda to get new trial

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Two men that were convicted of a 1993 murder of a Tonawanda woman are getting a new trial after a New York State Supreme Justice granted them a chance to prove their innocence.

Brian Scott Lorenzo and James Pugh were convicted of the February 17, 1993 murder of Deborah Meindl at her Franklin Street home in the City of Tonawanda. Documents say she was stabbed, beaten and strangled with a necktie. She was found by her 10-year-old daughter.

Lorenzo was sentenced to 37 and a half years in prison and remains in custody, and Pugh was released after serving 28 years of a 25 years to life sentence.

Court documents say they were tied to the crime through “admissions they made to several friends and associates they encountered shortly after the crime” and a silver dollar coin that was found in a duffel bag in a stolen car driven by Lorenzo when he was arrested on unrelated charges several months after the murder in Sioux City, Iowa. In Pugh’s case, no physical evidence tied him to the crime, but he had several people testify against him.

Both men have always maintained their innocence.

On Wednesday, Judge Paul Wojtaszek vacated the convictions. He said he based his ruling on new DNA evidence that was taken from the necktie used during the murder. He also said that the prosecution failed to disclose the coin they said tied Lorenzo to the murder.

In addition to the murder charge, both Lorenzo and Pugh were convicted on burglary charges related to the crime.

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Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.

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