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Two face manslaughter charges in Amherst, Cheektowaga homicides

Two died in domestic incidents over the past several days – one strangled during "intimate relations" and the other stabbed in the back – and manslaughter charges have been filed in both cases.

In the first case, a boyfriend strangled his girlfriend while the two were having "intimate relations," Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said Tuesday.

"He was basically strangling her while they were being intimate," Flynn said. "It is called erotic asphyxiation. I call it a crime."

In the second case, a girlfriend fatally stabbed her boyfriend, who had a history of violence against her but had graduated from a domestic violence course in Amherst.

"This case is going to be thoroughly investigated by my office to determine if, in fact, there is a justification defense here," Flynn said.

In the asphyxiation case, which occurred early Saturday, 26-year-old Sonny Martinez was charged with second-degree manslaughter in the strangulation death of his girlfriend, 23-year-old Brittney Balbuzoski.

"The homicide occurred while Mr. Martinez and his girlfriend were having intimate relations," Flynn said during a news conference at his office.

Martinez called Cheektowaga police to alert them to Balbuzoski's death, Flynn said. Police arrested him at his Ivanhoe Road home. He was arraigned in Town of Cheektowaga Court and then taken to the Erie County Holding Center, where he remains without bail.

Martinez is due back in court Thursday for a felony hearing.

Flynn said he doubts the charge against Martinez would be lowered once an indictment comes.

"I have no indication right now that the victim did not consent to the activity that had taken place, but there appears to be no justification for that," Flynn said.

In the second case, Monica Carpenter, 31, of Amherst, was charged in the fatal stabbing death of her live-in boyfriend early Monday in their Callodine Avenue home in Eggertsville.

Carpenter called the Amherst Police Department and said she had stabbed her boyfriend, Pedro Pizarro, 30, Flynn said.

Carpenter faces a first-degree manslaughter charge.

"He was allegedly stabbed in the back, and he was alive when the police arrived," Flynn said.

Pizarro "was talking with police, albeit, not in great shape," Flynn added. Pizarro was transported to Erie County Medical Center, where he died in surgery, according to the district attorney.

"The victim in this case had a history of domestic violence against the defendant here," Flynn said.

In 2017, Pizarro was charged with criminal mischief against Carpenter. The charge was eventually reduced to harassment, Flynn said.

Pizarro later participated in a domestic violence program run by Amherst Town Court.

"He graduated from the domestic violence course in Amherst and he was given an order of protection, a non-offensive order of protection," Flynn said. "So, he wasn't violating the order of protection by (them) living together. It was an order of protection that said he could not be offensive against the now defendant in this matter."

Carpenter inflicted stab wounds to his back, prompting a charge of first-degree manslaughter, a Class B felony, instead of second-degree manslaughter.

Carpenter was arraigned Monday in Amherst Town Court. Carpenter is scheduled to return to court Friday for a felony hearing. She remains held on $100,000 cash or bond.

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