Paul Batterson Jr., Matthew Rooney plead not guilty in fatal home invasion

Matthew Rooney, left, and Paul Batterson Jr., right, Matthew Rooney, left, and Paul Batterson Jr., right, both 22, are charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the death of Francisco Pirir Canel, 45, and the shooting of his uncle, Cipriano Pirir Patzan, during the early hours of Dec. 8 at their Eastport home. Photo Credit: SCDA

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Two East Moriches men pleaded not guilty Thursday to an indictment charging them with fatally shooting a man in the face with a shotgun during a home invasion last month.

Paul Batterson Jr. and Matthew Rooney, both 22, are charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the death of Francisco Pirir Canel, 45, and the shooting of his uncle, Cipriano Pirir Patzan, during the early hours of Dec. 8 at their Eastport home.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro ordered both held without bail. Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe told Ambro that Batterson and Rooney were wearing masks as they shot out windows and shot a door off its hinges at the house before kicking their way in and demanding money. When Pirir Canel said he had none and was going to call police, Newcombe said, Batterson "shot him in the face, killing him almost instantly."

In separate arraignments in Riverhead, she said Batterson and Rooney both made admissions about their involvement to others. A search of Batterson's home recovered the shotgun used in the crime, Newcombe said. He was arrested Jan. 18.

She said the two defendants are friends, but declined to say how they met or how they know each other. She also would not say if they managed to steal anything from the Pirir home.

Batterson's attorney, Edward Burke Jr. of Sag Harbor, said his client "adamantly denies the charges." Batterson's parents and about a dozen supporters came in support. None of them commented.

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Burke said his client was not a flight risk, but Ambro declined to set bail, "given the brutal nature of the allegations."

Rooney's attorney, Pietrina Reda of Merrick, said her client denies the allegations. He surrendered Thursday at the request of the district attorney's office.

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