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INDICTMENT VOTED IN INFANT'S DEATH, DA SAYS

An indictment is expected to be unsealed today against Michael Haffizulla, who allegedly buried his dead 7-week-old son on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in July.

"I reported to the court (Monday) that an indictment was voted on Friday and will be handed up (today)," District Attorney Matthew J. Murphy III said. But he declined to say what charges will be included, although he told County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza that Haffizulla was a suspect in a homicide.

Haffizulla, 32, of LaSalle Avenue, Niagara Falls, has been held in lieu of $250,000 bail since being arrested July 22. That is when he led police to a shallow grave off Blacknose Spring Road that contained the corpse of his infant son, Mickla, who had died July 18. Autopsy reports said the infant died of multiple blunt-force trauma to the head and body.

Investigators went to Jamaica after the arrest to interview the child's mother, a native of that country who fled there with the couple's 2-year-old daughter.

"The mother is back in Western New York. She is cooperating with authorities," Murphy said.

Haffizulla was originally arrested on charges of tampering with evidence, obstructing governmental administration and first-degree criminal possession of marijuana. The first two charges stemmed from the burial of the baby, the other from the discovery of about 11 pounds of marijuana during a search of his home.

Haffizulla told police at the time that he panicked and buried the baby when he found him dead and his longtime girlfriend, the mother, wanted to call the police.

Haffizulla reportedly told police the death was accidental and denied killing the child. Police were alerted to the death by the infant's grandfather.

Monday's court appearance was triggered by a motion filed by the public defender's office claiming that Murphy had missed a deadline for getting grand jury action on the case and, therefore, Haffizulla, a native of India living in this country on a "green card," should be released from jail.

Assistant Public Defender Thomas M. DiMillo, who prepared the motion, said the law gives prosecutors 45 days from a lower court felony court hearing or its waiver to proceed against a defendant in the grand jury, and if they don't the suspect is to be released on his own recognizance.

"It has nothing to do with the merits of the case," DiMillo said.

But Assistant Public Defender Edward P. Jesella, who handled the argument Monday, said the motion was ruled moot after Murphy reported the Friday indictment.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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