East Moriches man arraigned in Eastport slaying
An East Moriches man arraigned Sunday on a second-degree murder charge in the December shooting death of an Eastport father of four was ordered held without bail.
Paul Batterson Jr., 22, is accused of fatally shooting Francisco Pirir, 45, during a botched burglary attempt about 3:25 a.m. Dec. 8, Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe said.
Batterson was arrested Saturday night after a shotgun and other items were recovered from his parents' home, where he lives, officials said. The evidence "is consistent with the ballistic evidence recovered" at the scene, according to the criminal complaint.
Armed with a shotgun, Batterson and an accomplice with a long gun, both wearing masks, entered the home that Pirir shared with six other people on East Moriches Boulevard in Eastport, Newcombe said.
The two men were "banging on the door [and] yelling" before they shot out the windows to the home and kicked down the front door, Newcombe said.
The bandits encountered Pirir, a landscaper, in the living room. When they demanded money, Pirir said he did not have any and that he was going to call the police. Batterson then shot him in the face, Newcombe said.
Batterson, dressed in a blue Nike hoodie and black sweatpants, did not speak during his arraignment Sunday at First District Court in Central Islip.
Eric Besso, Batterson's attorney, did not enter a plea for his client at the arraignment, but maintained his innocence before Judge Paul Hensley.
"He says he had nothing to do with this and was home at the time," Besso said, adding that Batterson does not have prior contact with the judicial system.
Besso also tried to discount the prosecution's evidence, saying that "ballistics are different on shotguns. . . . They are smoother on the inside."
Friends and family members of the victim filled two rows of the courtroom to see the person who may have killed Pirir, a Guatemalan immigrant whose wife and children still live in his homeland.
Marcos Pirir, the victim's brother, and Cipriano Pirir, 56, the victim's uncle, said they were there during the shooting.
Cipriano Pirir's left hand was still bandaged where he was wounded when the bandits shot through the closed door before barging in, he said.
"I feel content that they caught the one shooter," Cipriano Pirir said in Spanish through an interpreter. "I just hope they catch the other one soon."
The two men said they couldn't identify the accused shooter because his face was covered by the mask. After seeing Batterson in court, the Pirirs said they didn't recognize him.
"We don't know why they did this to him," Marcos Pirir said, shaking and holding back tears. "He was a very nice person. He was a hard-working man. I'm just not believing [this] right now."
Batterson's father was in the courtroom during the arraignment, Besso told the judge. Besso and a couple believed to be Batterson's parents would not comment on the arrest as they left court.
Hensley ordered Batterson held without bail. He is due back in court Friday.