Defense attorney Paul J. Cambria Jr. says Rachael Stra's public defender has no basis for some of the statements made to reporters last week, especially one that Ms. Stra and Angel Colon have been charged in Family Court with sexually abusing Ms. Stra's daughter, Samantha Zaldivar.
Cambria also disputed statements that Ms. Stra is considered an accomplice in her daughter's murder.
"Everything I have reviewed demonstrates there is no basis to the claim that she (Ms. Stra) is being accused of any type of abuse, sexual or otherwise," Cambria said after meeting with her and Anthony N. Irrera.
Cambria, appointed to defend Ms. Stra by the Capital Defenders Office because it is a potential capital murder case, said he attributed the statements to Irrera's "inexperience in these type of matters." He said Irrera "agrees there was no basis to make them."
Irrera said Saturday that earlier published remarks were "not the perception I was trying to portray."
"I was under the impression that's what they were trying to do," he said of reports that prosecutors were going to indict his client.
Irrera said he sought out Cambria's help because of his experience in criminal cases and said he feels he was instrumental in getting Cambria appointed.
"I did meet with Cambria (Saturday), and it went very well," he said. "After reviewing all the evidence with him, there's nothing there. I was given the impression there was that kind of evidence, but there wasn't."
Samantha disappeared Feb. 26, and her body was found May 23, buried in a field near her home in the Wyoming County community of Hermitage.
Cambria said Ms. Stra "has been interviewed relay-fashion by state police, the FBI and the Sheriff's Department for more than 20 hours. She has given permission to search her home. She was told she passed a lie detector test. She has cooperated in every possible way.
"However, she believes there's a concerted effort to pressure her into becoming some kind of witness against Angel Colon; that she knows something she's not saying.
"She's told every authority time and time again everything she knows, and now it appears all this talk of indictments is just a final pressure tactic in trying to get her to say something she just can't."
Cambria said that after reviewing the case, "the fact that all of this is being said, not only shocks me but disappoints me because it has the effect of creating a negative impression about her when there is no basis for that impression."