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Grand jury indicts Sanchez in 2 murders

An Erie County grand jury Friday charged Altemio C. Sanchez with the murders of Linda Yalem in 1990 and Majane Mazur in 1992.

The indictment was handed up to Senior Erie County Judge Michael L. D'Amico.

A haggard-looking Sanchez, 49, wearing an ill-fitting blue business suit and an open-collared white shirt, declined to comment as he was brought before D'Amico for a brief court session.

District Attorney Frank J. Clark confirmed Sanchez has been charged with with one count of intentional second-degree murder in the death of Mazur, and both felony second-degree murder and intentional second-degree murder in the Yalem slaying on the Ellicott Creek Bike Path in Amherst.

Clark said allegations that Yalem was raped or sexually molested were included in the felony murder charge.

Sex crimes could not be considered in the Mazur case because her body was not found until two weeks after her murder, he said.

No evidence was presented to the grand jury about the murder of Joan Diver last fall in Newstead because Clark said there is "not sufficient evidence in that case yet."

Clark confirmed that a male witness told authorities after Sanchez's arrest Monday that Sanchez was near that murder scene "some weeks" before the Diver murder.

The district attorney said there is "an ongoing investigation" of the Diver murder but declined to comment further on the witness who put Sanchez near the scene of that homicide. He stressed that proof that Sanchez had been in Diver's vehicle -- his DNA was found in the car -- is not sufficient grounds to seek a murder indictment.

After the brief court proceeding Friday, defense attorney Andrew C. LoTempio said Sanchez is "physically and mentally exhausted." Sanchez is on a "lockdown" watch in the Erie County Holding Center, where he is being watched to ensure he does not hurt himself or is hurt by other inmates, LoTempio said.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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