Charges upgraded in Joanna Bird murder case

A 15-count indictment against the man accused of stabbing New Cassel mother Joanna Bird to death was unsealed Monday, revealing an upgraded murder charge. Leonardo Valdez-Cruz now faces a first-degree

News 12 Staff

May 18, 2009, 11:52 PM

Updated 5,546 days ago

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A 15-count indictment against the man accused of stabbing New Cassel mother Joanna Bird to death was unsealed Monday, revealing an upgraded murder charge.
Leonardo Valdez-Cruz now faces a first-degree murder charge instead of a second-degree charge because, according to court papers, he tortured Bird before ultimately killing her in March. Court papers say Valdez-Cruz committed or attempted to commit rape, aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping. The indictment explains how Valdez-Cruz allegedly tried to kidnap Bird and threatened to kill her in January. He was arrested, but the charges were dropped when prosecutors say Bird refused to testify in front of a grand jury.
Police say Valdez-Cruz fatally stabbed Joanna Bird in March. Bird's family says that Valdez-Cruz came to visit her the night before she was killed. Family members are also suing the Nassau County Police Department, claiming that the murder could have been prevented if police arrested Valdez-Cruz for violating an order of protection.
Seven Nassau County cops are awaiting disciplinary hearings after Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey admitted to News 12 Long Island the officers failed to do their jobs when responding to four domestic violence calls at Bird's mother's house in the days leading up to her death.
Neither Valdez-Cruz?s attorney nor the District Attorney?s Office would comment. Valdez-Cruz is scheduled to be arraigned some time next week.


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