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SUSPECT BOASTFUL IN DESCRIBING FATAL KNIFINGS, POLICE SAY

Anthony J. Medina was boastful, police said, as he recounted slitting his estranged wife's throat with a butcher knife and fatally stabbing her boyfriend.

For two hours Thursday after Medina's capture, homicide Detectives James Giardina and Anthony Scinta listened in shock as the suspect vented anger, sometimes cursing, as he detailed killing Joanne Medina and Stephen Haines at her Riverside home earlier this week, authorities said.

Capt. Joseph Riga, chief of the Homicide Bureau, said Medina "actually said he wasn't the least bit remorseful. His attitude was one of braggadocio. The best word I can use to describe him is 'evil.' "

In court, Medina, 37, pleaded innocent to two counts of first-degree murder, a charge that carries the possibility of the death penalty. Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark declined to say whether he would seek the maximum punishment.

"We'll make a determination on what will be presented to the grand jury based on an assessment of all the evidence," Clark said. "If there are multiple killings and each killing was intentional, it would be in the purview of the first-degree murder statute."

Medina told police that he entered the Crowley Avenue home he once shared with his 35-year-old wife late Monday morning and began stabbing her in the chest and back.

Although mortally wounded, she ran from the house and collapsed on the sidewalk near the driveway.

Medina then allegedly stabbed Haines, 36, of Arcade, numerous times in the upper body, killing him, before running out of the house in pursuit of his wife. Although she appeared dead lying on the sidewalk, he said he slit her throat for good measure, according to authorities.

"He finished her off out there," Riga said.

Mrs. Medina's 10-year-old son, who witnessed her slaying, ran from the house to the home of a neighbor, who called 911 at 11:55 a.m., police said

Before police arrived, Medina reportedly drove off in a 1998 Oldsmobile, beginning a massive four-day manhunt by city police.

Investigators think that he stayed at the home of an acquaintance but that by Thursday morning, he left out of fear that police were closing in on him.

"He said he felt like he was being smothered. Where he was staying, he couldn't stay any longer, and he was looking for another place where someone would take him in," Riga said.

The manhunt ended about 9:15 a.m. on the West Side when Northwest District Officers Kimberly Eisenried and Jaclyn Santa Maria noticed Medina walking down Herkimer Street near Auchinvole Avenue.

Although he had dyed his black hair red and had shaved his mustache, "he was a dead ringer" for the man seen riding a Metro Bus from North Buffalo to Grant and Breckenridge streets earlier in the morning, according to the officers.

"He had his hands in his pockets, and we told him to take them out and kneel down," Officer Santa Maria said. "We approached him with extreme caution."

"It happened so quick. After, you think, wow, we got him," Officer Eisenried said.

Medina, they said, was unarmed and did not offer any resistance.

Although a motive for the slayings was not offered, police pointed to Medina's long history of domestic violence. He served more than 10 years in state prison for the near-fatal stabbing of his first wife in 1984.

Patrol Chief Lawrence Ramunno praised the arresting officers and the community for calling 911 to report sightings of Medina on Thursday morning.

"I can't say enough about the community. They are our eyes and ears. Without them, we're going up blind alleys," Ramunno said. "This guy had nothing to lose. He was wanted in a vicious double homicide. These officers showed a lot of courage."

Charges may be filed against one or more people who might have helped Medina elude authorities, Riga said.

"We're looking to identify them," the captain said. "We literally checked the addresses of dozens of relatives and acquaintances when we were looking for him."

A major concern police had was that the longer Medina remained at large, the greater the chance he might strike again with violence, police said.

"He's a dangerous man," Ramunno said.

Members of Mrs. Medina's family said they hope that he gets the death penalty. "We hope he never gets out and he gets the death penalty," her sister, Cathy Dragoo, said Thursday night. "We're thankful to the police and the community and anyone else who helped for capturing him."

She said family members are learning of physical abuse Medina inflicted on his wife.

"She never said a lot, she was so scared of him. We're learning so much it's killing us," Mrs. Dragoo said.

An Erie County grand jury was scheduled to begin hearing witnesses and considering evidence in Medina's case today. However, his court-assigned attorney, Michael J. Stachowski, said he might try to delay that proceeding.

During a midafternoon session shortly after City Judge Margaret A. Murphy ordered the suspect held without bail pending further proceedings, Medina told State Supreme Court Justice Joseph S. Forma that he wanted to serve as his own attorney.

Forma urged Medina to talk with Stachowski before deciding whether to represent himself.

Staff Reporter Matt Gryta contributed to this article.

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