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Two men convicted of kidnapping women

Two men have been convicted of kidnapping and attempted kidnapping in the second degree for grabbing a woman off an East Side street last October and for trying to abduct another that same night.

Hakim Owens, 23, and Paul Manning, 20, were found guilty Tuesday in the unusual case that involved Owens’ mother’s costume birthday party, a young woman carrying a copy of “Catcher in the Rye” who occasionally works as a prostitute, and a trip to the store for paper plates that ended with a handcuffed woman next to a child’s car seat in the back of an SUV.

During the men’s weeklong trial, the first victim, Patricia King, 44, told the jury that she was at a store on Broadway near Lidell on Oct. 16 when two men jumped out of an SUV yelling “FBI! FBI! Don’t move!” and grabbed her arms, twisting them behind her back.

They released her when two of her friends came over to see what the ruckus was.

She also testified that, although she has a long history of arrests for drugs and prostitution, she was so frightened that she flagged down a passing police car and told the officers what had happened, describing the tan and black SUV with a broken headlight that the men were driving.

While the officers were interviewing King, one of them spotted a car with a broken headlight coming up Broadway and they went in pursuit of the vehicle.

Aziza Prunty, 31, testified that she had a similar encounter with the men that night, except in her case there was no one nearby to stop them. She was alone, on her way to a friend’s house, carrying just a purse and her book, when the men pulled up alongside her, jumped out of the SUV and yelled “FBI!”

Shining a light in her face, they handcuffed her and hoisted her into the backseat. She testified that the driver – Owens – was barking orders, and on the witness stand she said Manning, who was seated next to her in back, was “like his minion,” doing what he was told.

When police stopped the SUV a short time later, she said, Owens fled the scene “faster than any human I ever saw,” while Manning started proclaiming it was “all a joke.”

Owens was represented by attorney Paul M. Michalek and Manning was represented by James DeMatteo. Neither defendant took the stand, but Manning was heard in court on tape in a profanity-peppered interview with a detective sergeant, in which he admitted to putting handcuffs on Prunty and getting her into the car.

Owens’ mother also testified that her son, who had wanted to go into law enforcement when he was growing up, was dressed as an FBI agent for her birthday party that night and had been sent out to get paper plates and forks so she could serve her guests.

The case was prosecuted by assistant district attorneys Eugene T. Partridge III and Sydney Probst.

Neither woman was injured during the abduction attempts and no explanation was given for what the men intended to do with their captive. It also wasn’t revealed whether Owens ever planned to return to the party with the plates.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 16 by Erie County Judge Kenneth F. Case. The kidnapping charge carries a possible sentence of up to 25 years; attempted kidnapping has a maximum sentence of 15 years.