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Indictment on 21 charges sought against suspect in predator case

Prosecutors will be presenting evidence to an Erie County grand jury today seeking indictments against a Buffalo man on 21 criminal charges in connection with terrorizing elderly residents in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood.

Darnell J. Prude, 18, is accused of committing a series of violent home invasions and burglaries in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood near the Broadway Market.

Authorities said that Prude beat some of his victims so badly that they were hospitalized.

Prosecutors said they will show evidence that Prude committed 21 offenses -- including burglary, assault, grand larceny and criminal possession of a weapon.

They contend that this crime spree went from 2006 into this year -- all concentrating in the same neighborhood.

District Attorney Frank J. Clark said if Prude is indicted on all 21 charges, he could be facing as much as 50 years in prison. "If he is indicted on everything, the potential punishment will be huge," Clark said. "I'm sure that the seriousness of each of these crimes and the fact that he's already been convicted of very serious crimes, will be considered when the court considers his sentencing."

On Oct. 5, Prude was charged with committing eight crimes in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood -- one burglary and seven other home-invasion robberies.

That month, a Buffalo News investigation revealed that police suspected Prude of committing nearly two dozen home invasions, burglaries and robberies in that neighborhood.

Police brass came under intense public criticism for failing to warn the community that there could be a serial predator in the city. At the time, police officials downplayed The News investigation, claiming that there was no indication that Prude was a serial predator.

Authorities said the eight charges laid against Prude last month are included among the 21 charges to be presented to the grand jury.

Today's evidence will include his statements, eyewitness testimony and physical evidence. Authorities revealed that DNA is believed to be among that physical evidence to be presented.

Prude is accused of targetting some of the city's most vulnerable residents.

"I can't imagine anything more frightening than a person invading your home, injuring you in the course of the crime and then running away," said Clark. "You feel like your home is your sanctuary, and these victims will always have that feeling that the sanctity of their home has been violated."


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