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COURT REJECTS COLON'S EFFORT TO KEEP ATTORNEY GENERAL FROM AIDING PROSECUTORS

The state's highest court Monday rejected Angel R. Colon's bid to block the state attorney general's office from assisting Wyoming County prosecutors in the potential death-penalty case for the alleged sex-murder of his fiancee's daughter.

The Court of Appeals in Albany refused to grant him permission to appeal a ruling made two months ago by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester allowing Diane M. LaVallee, one of Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco's aides, to join the prosecution team in the Colon case.

Wyoming County Public Defender Norman P. Effman, Colon's chief lawyer, could not be reached to comment Monday. Wyoming District Attorney Gerald L. Stout, who has not yet decided whether he will seek the death penalty in the first-degree murder case, said a trial is months away.

Being held at the Wyoming County Jail, Colon, 24, is accused of sexually assaulting Samantha Zaldivar, 7, before killing her last Feb. 26. He is accused of then burying her in a shallow grave across the road from the Wethersfield trailer home he shared with her mother, Rachel Stra.

The girl's body was unearthed May 23 by a farmer tilling the cornfield where she was buried. About a month ago, Wyoming County Court Judge Mark Dadd gave prosecutors permission to take hair and blood samples from Colon. On Monday, Stout declined to comment on the status of that evidence.

Ms. Stra, 27, is expected to stand trial next month on public lewdness and disorderly conduct charges linked to her arrest outside the county jail two months ago after deputies accused her of making obscene gestures towards inmates looking out jail windows after she visited Colon.

The Colon case marks Vacco's second entry into recent high-profile Western New York prosecutions. His office got involved in the Kevin King murder case in Olean in March 1995 and after Court of Appeals last February reversed a lower court and upheld Vacco's role in that case, seven men and women pleaded guilty and got prison terms and an eighth was recently convicted and is appealing.

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