Rachel Stra, the mother of 7-year-old Samantha Zaldivar, who was killed in February and buried in a cornfield, apparently has reversed her decision to testify before a Wyoming County grand jury because of the conditions attached to an offer of immunity.
Ms. Stra was offered complete immunity if she would talk with FBI agents and pass a polygraph test, her attorney, Anthony N. Irrera of Batavia, said in a statement to the media Tuesday. If she failed the test, however, her answers could be used against her.
"As attractive as immunity may be, having it all depend on a polygraph is just too risky," Irrera said. "My concern regarding the polygraph is the machine itself, not whether my client is being truthful or not.
"One electronic blip or power surge from an unknown source could result in my client losing the immunity and possibly being charged with first-degree murder," Irrera said. "I cannot in good conscience recommend my client accept such a deal."
Irrera added that he is seeking an expert defense attorney specializing in first-degree murder cases to join him as co-counsel.
Ms. Stra told the Batavia Daily News Monday she had agreed to testify before the grand jury investigating the killing in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
She said then that she knows nothing about the death of her daughter, whose body was found May 23 by a farmer plowing a field across the road from the family's home in Hermitage Meadows Trailer Park in Hermitage.
The girl disappeared after leaving for school Feb. 26.
Ms. Stra added that she believes her boyfriend, Angel Colon, "is 100 percent innocent, and I'm not testifying against him."
Colon has described himself as the chief suspect in the girl's death.
Though police have never said Colon is a suspect, Wyoming County prosecutors are reported to be seeking a murder indictment against him. He is believed to be the last person to have seen Samantha alive.
Colon was arrested in Florida Friday on a New York bench warrant issued after he failed to appear on two misdemeanor charges not directly related to Samantha's death.
He is fighting New York's attempts to extradite him.
Colon was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration in March during an altercation with Wyoming County sheriff's deputies and child-welfare workers investigating a complaint of child neglect involving his and Ms. Stra's two daughters.