Two of the four men charged with first-degree murder for the Dec. 29 home-invasion robbery and slaying of Anaida Rivera are facing the death penalty. She was the mother of three young children.
All four defendants were formally arraigned Thursday afternoon in York County Court on charges of first-, second- and third-degree murder, robbery, burglary and criminal conspiracy to commit each of those offenses.
They are Robert Perez, 24, of 145 N. Queen St.; Daniel Joseph Smith, 26, of 114 N. Queen St.; Francisco Santos, 31, of no fixed address; and Quinn Daequann Brown, 19, last known address in the 100 block of North Queen Street.
All four remain in county prison without bail, and all entered not-guilty pleas at Thursday's arraignment.
Chief deputy prosecutor Karen Comery has filed notice she will seek the death penalty against Perez and Smith
Three reasons: At the request of presiding Common Pleas Judge Richard K. Renn, Comery cited three aggravating factors that would allow her to seek the death penalty:
* That Rivera's death occurred during the course of another felony
* That the crime created a grave risk of death for the two young children home at the time
* That Rivera was killed by means of torture.
Perez and Smith will each be assigned second attorneys because they face the death penalty.
Renn set a pretrial conference for 11 a.m. May 24.
What law allows: Comery said state law only allows prosecutors to seek death for co-conspirators who are accused of actively participating in a victim's homicide.
"Otherwise, we probably would've filed for (the death penalty against) all four," she said.
Attorney Bill Graff, who represents Smith, declined comment. He confirmed this is his first death-penalty case as a defense attorney, although he handled six death-penalty cases as a prosecutor.
Attorney Dawn Cutaia represents Perez.
"I don't think this is a first-degree murder case, based on the evidence the commonwealth has (presented) at this point," she said.
The allegations: Rivera's body was found inside her 250 Liberty Court home by two of her children about 9:30 a.m. Dec. 30, police said. Duct tape was over her mouth, and an autopsy determined she died of suffocation and strangulation, York City Police said.
Rivera's daughter and one of her sons were home at the time of the crime, and took refuge upstairs as they listened to their mother scream, police said.
Smith, Santos and Brown have all confessed, according to Detective First Class Jeff Spence; Perez told investigators he wasn't there.
Attacked: According to Spence, Smith admitted he punched the 40-year-old Rivera in the face when she opened her front door, and admitted he and Perez took turns choking and hitting her.
Smith also told detectives he put duct tape over Rivera's mouth, while Perez used the victim's curtains to bind her wrists, Spence said.
"As they left, Mr. Smith said he checked to see if the victim was still breathing, and sat her up," Spence said, and Smith also told detectives he untied Rivera's wrists before leaving.
The four men then went to the home of a York City woman, where they split up the items stolen from Rivera, according to Comery, who said the woman apparently helped plan the crime.
The investigation into that woman is ongoing and charges are possible, Comery said.
-- Reach Elizabeth Evans at email@example.com, 505-5429 or twitter.com/ydcrimetime.